3 April 2019

Zimbabwe: ZBC Taken to Court Over Biased Reporting, Judgment Reserved

A legal and parliamentary watchdog Veritas Zimbabwe, has dragged State broadcaster ZBC along with other institutions of government to court over "support for Zanu PF."

Veritas has is suing Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Zimbabwe Newspapers 1980), the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), to court to compel them to subscribe to Section 61 of the Constitution.

In terms of section 61 (4) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, State-owned media houses have a special constitutional obligation to be impartial, equitable, and unbiased in their reportage, Veritas argues.

The group cites last year's general elections as a point of reference for the biased reporting on the part of State media houses.

ZBC wanted the application to be thrown out on the grounds that the applicant Veritas Zimbabwe, had not given a notice to file supplementary heads of argument and that the 2018 elections had been overtaken by events, while Zimpapers did not oppose the application.

Veritas through their by lawyer Doug Coltart told the court that Zimbabwe will always conduct elections and the respondents should act in accordance with the Constitution.

"These obligations are always ever present. The relief being sought does not make any reference to the elections. An election is a process and not an event. There are by-elections going on throughout the

electoral cycle.

"Whatever the ruling this honorable court hands down, it will certainly have a bearing on future elections," argued Coltart in court.

After hearing arguments from all the parties Justice Joseph Mafusire sitting at the Masvingo High Court agreed to hear the case on merits despite attempts by the respondents to have the matter dismissed on technical grounds. Justice Mafusire reserved judgment in the matter.

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