My presentation for today:
Experiences of Zimbabwe journalist, before, during and after Covid 19 pandemic.
In Zimbabwe, we have had our problems way before the pandemic, we are still struggling with our economy due to current political scourge and leadership crisis were a certain group or the majority don’t believe in the current administration, the don’t trust the government even with its figures of the infected persons, this so the promulgation of the SI 83 where one would spend up to 20 year in prison for information dissemination especially of Covid 19 cases not approved by the government. This has its own advantages of guarding against misinformation and causing people to panic but close the gap from citizen journalists who on most cases report through social media what would be on the ground. To have an actual figure of cases it’s difficult.
The political fight between the ruling party and Zanu pf contribute to access of information as to which media house are you coming from, that alone makes one you are interviewing wear a tolerable jacket or not because private media is already labelled as the one for the opposition and those with regime change agenda. On that same note we had a challenge during our previous election when the country requested for the diaspora vote which didn’t sail through with this Covid-19, looking from reporters worldwide citizens who were working abroad are coming back to their country where they were contributing through diaspora remittances but there is no were to start from, that is expected to change the face of the economic and political status of the country.
Another problem that came along with coronavirus is that of Malaria, How can hospitals and clinics separate malaria and Corona cases, in the case of Zimbabwe, and maybe other African countries as well as the symptoms are almost similar on early stage. In most African countries Southern to be more precise because of climate change shift in weather conditions my cause flue like symptoms but do we have enough and rightful testing kits, no, most of the consumables used are donor funded the government of Zimbabwe has failed even to give the poor and the vulnerable a little to survive in these perennial times, so reporting yes journalists are trying but like I said before private media is regarded as an enemy of the state, further more people don’t have money to by airtime to read or even open videos posted on social media, they can’t afford. Journalists especially freelance have been providing news to streamline media houses but still the issue of remuneration is still an issue of concern, no resources to go into the most marginalized and peripheral areas of the country.
Over and above, another body that represent journalists in Zimbabwe had to approach the courts for private media to cover during this Covid-19 period earlier the police General had said only state broadcast, Zimbabwe Broadcasting cooperation and newspapers which is Zimpapers are the only ones who are supposed to be working during the lockdown period, but there are no PPEs No one has, so it’s also difficult to go on the ground to get information from those affected on the experience. Post Covid-19 Era is just but a thorn in the flesh for the rest of the nation, if super power in the world are crying about the loses what of us in Africa Zimbabwe for example that depends on these countries, besides most citizen were relying on the retail business with all boarders closed it will be a challenge, on migration countries that most Zimbabweans had resorted going to work seem to be changing the statusqou as they are asking their citizens to occupy those vacant post, politically there is an advantage but economically it will be difficult to win this battle, however it’s the media again that will be asked to work flat out in trying to educate, help and inform people on other means of survival, which media? Private media of course because of readership but will it be in a position to operate without government support, donor funding etc, it’s difficult. There is need for more research and training across the board to see how best we can work in the midst of this situation.
This is my humble submission
Shingirai Vambe: Journalist and Publisher of The Post On Sunday