Media Update No

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					                         Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
                              221 Fife Avenue, Harare
                         Tel/ Fax: 263 4 733486, 735441/2

Media Update No. 2000/7                        14th February to 20th February 2000

Post referendum coverage:
General observations:
   i.  · ZIMPAPERS and ZBC relied heavily on unsubstantiated comments from ZANU
       (PF) officials and Jonathan Moyo.
  ii.  · ZIMPAPERS and ZBC almost entirely excluded comments from representatives of
       the "No" vote lobby in their news reports.
 iii.  · Practical problems encountered during the voting process were not examined in the
       public media.
 iv.   · ZIMPAPERS and ZBC continued to carry bigoted, unsubstantiated and
       unchallenged statements about whites, neo-colonialists, puppets, South Africans and

MMPZ's most disturbing finding of the week was that all media reported the results
inaccurately, although The Daily News was closer to the correct figures than its rival.
The Chronicle did not print a final list. The Herald (February 16th) in its table of the results
printed the Rushinga and Shamva figures twice (where the "yes" vote won resoundingly).
Hatfield and Marondera West constituencies, where the "yes" vote lost and won respectively,
were omitted. Guruve North was printed as a "no" vote in The Herald and a "yes" vote in The
Daily News. The Wedza "no" vote varied by a factor of 10 in the 2 dailies. The total of "no"
vote constituencies printed in The Herald was 63. However the newspaper went on to
announce in its front-page lead that a majority (63) constituencies had voted in favour of the
new constitution, while 57 constituencies had voted against. The error was compounded in
the editor's comment. It would appear from the figures given by the RG that 62
constituencies voted "No" and 58 voted "Yes". The Zimbabwe Mirror's editorial Comment
also assumed a majority "yes" in the constituency count, - "…the possible outcome of the
next general elections can be easily extrapolated from the results of the poll at the
referendum. More than 50% of the constituencies (63 out of 120) and 6 out 10 provinces
voted in the affirmative and obviously constitute a base upon which ZANU (PF) is likely to
improve upon in the next few weeks."

Announcement of the results
Most publicly funded media coverage showed bias in favour of the "yes" vote despite the fact
that initial results showed it to be lagging behind. The Herald headlines, "Referendum results
won't be out today"(Feb. 14th), "Partial referendum results announced" (Feb. 15th), ignored
the fact that the "no" vote was in the lead. The trend was similar after the final count. In
contrast, The Daily News and The Chronicle headlines "No vote leading" and "Majority vote
No" respectively, on February 15th, reflected the situation on the ground. ZBC radio and
television failed to give periodic and accurate updates of the results but speculated that the
"yes" vote would eventually overwhelm the initial "no" lead when the rural areas were
ZBC radio failed to report the final result on Tuesday afternoon on its 3 pm news bulletin.
While the final "no" result as announced by the RG at 2.15 p.m. was beamed around the
world on BBC and CNN, ZBC news continued to announce that "according to result JUST
received Rushinga had posted a resounding "yes" vote". The Rushinga result had been
announced the day before [Source: The Chronicle, The Daily News and The Herald
(February 15th)]. The ZBC newsroom told MMPZ that its reporter "has not yet returned from
Mukwati Building". ZBCTV (15th, 8 pm) carried a 10-minute report on the results of the
referendum. Jonathan Moyo was allocated 7 minutes accusing "South African white-
Rhodies" of crossing the border to vote against the draft. This statement was not challenged
in the light of the overwhelming "yes" vote in Beitbridge. ZBC TV gave no voice to the NCA

or other groups who had campaigned against the draft. Moyo also alleged that the "yes" vote
would have won if the counting were constituency based. The reporter did not verify this.
NB: MMPZ sympathises with all reporters attempting to secure accurate information from the
RG's office. In our own attempts during the week, it has been found that such information is
regarded as a closely guarded state secret and that those trying to pursue accuracy are
treated with disdain.

Both ZBC radio and television broadcast the President's post-referendum statement in
which, unlike his ministers and the CC spokesman, he thanked "minority groups" for
participating. He also correctly referred to the constitution currently in use as the "Lancaster
House Constitution - as amended."

Voting procedures
The private press gave prominence to logistical problems encountered during and after the
voting process. ZIMPAPERS and ZBC made mere side reference to the problems. The
problems included:
1. Poor communication between polling stations and RG'office,
2. Monitors unable to reach their posts in time
3. Monitors' payments
4. Unavailability of the aliens' voters' rolls
5. Lack of awareness on voting eligibility, and
6. Vote Counting
E.g. Monitors abandon stations due to non-payment (The Chronicle, February 14th and
ZBCTV, Feb 14th, Nhau/ Indaba)
Chaos on Mutare polling stations (The Eastern Star February 18th)
Voter's roll arrives late in Hwange (The Chronicle, February 14th)
A new era beckons, but hurdles remain (The Financial Gazette, February 17th) Referendum
exposes loopholes in voting process (The Zimbabwe Independent, February 18th) Poll
observer critical of electoral system (The Daily News, February 16th)

The voice of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), which was all but ignored in the
run up to the referendum, was limited to the lunchtime ZBC radio and television news
bulletins on the 14th. Mrs. Raftopoulus was quoted saying that there was need for an
Independent Electoral Commission to handle the 2000 general elections and that the ESC
had been given no time to prepare for the referendum. The report was cut off in mid-
sentence on television and was not followed up in subsequent bulletins.

Comments on the referendum
Comments from ZANU (PF) and Jonathan Moyo were predominant in the publicly funded
media. Of the 46 referendum reports monitored on ZBC radio, the frequency of ZANU (PF)
and Constitutional Commission voices was 46%. The NCA was only quoted twice. ZBC TV
had 34 referendum stories, and 23(42%) of the voices belonged to ZANU (PF) officials.
The NCA was quoted only once on ZBC television news bulletins. MMPZ noted that the CNN
post-referendum report was cut in its retransmission on AM Zimbabwe on the 15th. The BBC
referendum story was aired uncut on Joy TV the previous evening.

Alternative voices remained limited in ZIMPAPERS with ZANU (PF) and CC voices (47%)
dominating the post referendum comments. NCA voices constituted 4%. The cause of the
"NO" vote continued to be misrepresented and misinterpreted in both ZIMPAPERS (except
The Manica Post) and the ZBC. (The Manica Post comment "Why majority voted NO" cited:
failure to address people's concerns; lack of clarity on the land issue & separation of powers;
and the time span given people to study the document as some of the reasons for the
rejection). Below are some of the reasons given in the rest of the publicly funded media:
     1. ZANU PF did not campaign seriously for a YES vote. (The figures of senior
         government ministers, the President and ZANU (PF) MP's quoted in the media
         campaigning for a "yes" vote, belie this statement.)
     2. Opposition parties and white farmers politicized the issue and confused people.
         (Some were accused of ferrying workers to the poll, others of preventing workers
         from going to the poll. There was no confirmation of this from any workers.)

   3. The influence of white ex-Rhodesians who traveled from South Africa to vote. (at no
      point was this verified. How did the Beitbridge border post cope? )
   4. The NO vote is a protest against economic hardships and people were not aware of
      the contents of the draft. (Reporters did not link this statement with the oft-repeated
      fact that more than 5 million copies of the draft had been printed and distributed - to
   5. Whites voted NO because they don't want to lose their land. (The numbers of white
      Zimbabwean voters was not verified, except in The Standard Voyager column, who
      put it roughly 35,000. The numbers of white landowners was not used as a challenge
      to this statement.)
   6. Whites forced farm workers and domestic workers to vote NO. (No evidence of this
      was presented. The only statement pointing to the influencing of voters was in a ZTV
      report on the 13th in which a farmer in Matabeleland stated that he had been told to
      vote "yes" and had done so out of fear of victimisation.)

The following ZIMPAPERS articles "Complacency caused triumph of no vote, says
Chimutengwende" (The Herald, February 19th) and "Chimutengwende on referendum" (The
Sunday News February 20th) quoted the Information Minister stating that lack of education
on the draft, and underestimation of Rhodesian, neo-colonial and retrogressive forces had
resulted in the rejection of the draft. The same report was extensively broadcast on radio and
television (February 19th, 8 pm bulletins). The Sunday Mail made similar claims in its
comment "Draft victim of political expediency". Jonathan Moyo's column "Historic referendum
now history - time to move on" claimed that "…the 100 000 or so whites who voted in the
referendum did so to maintain their control over the land, while blacks were fed lies that the
constitution was meant to entrench the rule of President Mugabe and ZANU (PF)". It is
interesting to note that by Sunday, Prof. Moyo had scaled down his (still hugely inflated)
estimation of the numbers of white voters. On SABC Feb. 15th news bulletins, he informed
the continent that the largest "no" votes were in Harare and Bulawayo and that "the majority
of those were white people." The "no" votes in Bulawayo and Harare totaled 317,593.

ZBCTV (Feb 17th, 8 pm) gave top of the bulletin prominence to War Veterans leader
Chenjerai Hunzvi attacking opposition political parties for influencing the results. The parties
were not accorded the right of reply.

MMPZ notes that radio current affairs programming gave ample space to alternative voices
after the referendum was over. (Musorowenyaya on 16 Feb. Radio 2 11.15, Referendum on
14 Feb. at 13.30 Radio 2, NCA Post referendum Programme 18 Feb. Radio 2, and Heart of
the Matter 16 Feb. Radio 1.) In all 4 programmes NCA officials categorically stated that a no
vote did not mean a return to the Lancaster house constitution, but that there was need to go
back to the drawing board. Spotlight on the 15th was cancelled due to the non-appearance
of CC members. The presenter noted, "…they were not brave enough to turn up."

The private press acknowledged that economic hardships, which had been noted in the
public media, had encouraged people to vote no. However, they also emphasised that the
contents of the draft constitution was not representative of people's submissions. Allegations
of whites and ex-Rhodesians ferrying workers to vote NO were dismissed, e.g. The Daily
News Comment (February 15th) "Whites scared them out of their wits". The Eastern Star
article "Tekere warns of deception - says ZANU (PF) worsened Lancaster House laws"
quoted a black Sakubva resident dismissing the assertion that whites had ferried their
workers to go and vote against the draft.


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