20 October 2018

Zimbabwe: Be Responsible, Say No to Fake News

It is probably time that proud Zimbabwean journalists close ranks against some local correspondents of foreign media who have demonstrated a penchant for fake news by putting money upfront against this country's national interests and with that their noble profession.

A typical example of disinformation raising its ugly head was a few days ago when the Commission of Inquiry appointed by President Mnangagwa to look into the post-July 30 harmonised elections violence began its work.

A correspondent for the Voice of America radio wrote that the commission, led by former South African President Kgalema Montlathe was looking into the disturbances in which Zimbabwe National Army soldiers shot and killed zanu-pf members who were among ruling party supporters demonstrating "against the delay in the release of election results."

But the truth, as Zimbabweans know it, is that MDC-Alliance members went on the rampage in Harare, destroying property including burning cars and beating up people in the capital's central business district (CBD).

It has so far not been officially confirmed that those who lost their lives were members of zanu-pf which, incidentally, also had its property destroyed by the demonstrators.

In the circumstances, is the VOA dispatch that soldiers killed zanu-pf supporters really not intentionally meant to cause bad blood between the army and the ruling party, especially since that information is sent to a country that by its actions appears to regard Zimbabwe an arch enemy?

Secondly, is the claim that zanu-pf members violently demonstrated against a delay in the release of election results not meant to give the impression that the party and its Government are at daggers-drawn?

Given the kind of fake news in point in this discourse, it is really not surprising that some African countries faced with similar dubious reports have had to adopt a negative attitude in the nation's interests towards their nationals working as international correspondents.

This pen does not, however, suggest that any restrictions be imposed on local journalists working for foreign news media.

It is, however, a reminder to journalists that since they play a crucial role in shaping the destinies of their nationals, factuality is critical in the discharge of their duty.

In essence, this suggests that ugly situations should not be coloured bright nor good ones ugly either by journalists.

Reporting truthfully must be a journalist's credo because only in that way will truth prevail and truth is the guideline for success in life.

Thus, those who aspire to transform societies using the pen as their tool must be prepared to and die by the truth and in that way inspire the fear of God and of the law against all evil including corruption, disinformation et al.

Journalism is not for the faint-hearted, and they do not call it "noble" for nothing.

Patriotism must take centre stage in the exposure of good and bad by journalists to transform societies socially, economically and politically for the good of all.

Zimbabwe

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