Editor’s Memo

The big lie

THE principal rule of propaganda as espoused by Josef Goebbels -the Nazi minister of propaganda – is to tell a big lie.



sans-serif”>Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa – while responding to a question in parliament last Wednesday – came up with diabolical untruths which fit this technique.


Gweru Urban MP Timothy Mukahlera asked the minister if government would ensure the opposition gets equitable media coverage in the run-up to the Seke by-election. Chinamasa had the effrontery to suggest the MDC was already getting more media coverage than Zanu PF.


“As we know, out of some 52 publications in Zimbabwe, 50 of them are belonging to the private sector, which in fact support the opposition,” Chinamasa told parliament.


“That is the truth in Zimbabwe. The point I am making is that the field in respect of the media is very level. If it is uneven, it is tipped against Zanu PF both locally and internationally in terms of movement of persons. I do not think basically that there is a problem in that sector.”


Nothing could be further from the truth.


German dictator Adolf Hitler writing in Mein Kampf said this about the big lie: “In the primitive simplicity of the people’s minds, they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.

“It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think there is some other explanation.”


The technique of the big lie demands that it defies logic. In order to work, all the evidence and logic has to point the other way, said best-selling author Hal Lindsey in a newspaper column in 2001.



MPs were made to swallow the dross by Chinamasa, which from elementary analysis is an embarrassing falsehood and an assault on the intelligence of the governed.


Chinamasa would like the nation to believe that 50 publications registered by the Media and Information Commission (MIC) all support the MDC and there are only two which are not sympathetic to the opposition! Which are the two publications not owned by the private sector?


There are six titles in the Zimpapers stable, owned by the government, which have not disguised their crude allegiance to Zanu PF. The government owns at least eight community newspapers under New Ziana, which churn out anti-MDC messages with gusto. Zanu PF has its own publication – The Voice – as part of its information machinery designed to prop up the incumbent and make vituperative attacks on the opposition.


Another obvious truth which evidently never occurred to Chinamasa is that the Zanu PF government runs four radio stations and a television station which have all been schooled to ensure that President Mugabe is portrayed as a hero and to preach the notion that the MDC is a reincarnation of colonial evil.


The minister’s suggestion that all private-sector publications support the MDC is simply fatuous. Does that include fashion magazines, trade magazines or innocuous in-house journals which are all registered with the MIC?



There was no one in the House to challenge the minister’s ridiculous statement, which is crucial for propagandists hooked onto the big lie stratagem – if noone challenges a big lie then it transmutes into fact.

The opposition’s silence on this is tantamount to aiding and abetting the process of distortion.


That record in column 132 of Hansard of August 18 should be kept for posterity as an illustration of our rulers’ integrity.


Despite its diabolical intention, Chinamasa’s statement is a useful disclosure on government’s perception of the current media scene.


His prognosis is that the MDC is already overexposed in the media and Zanu PF is getting a raw deal. What deception from a minister who told parliament on the same day that “my reputation as minister responsible for delivering justice is at an all-time high”!


He was responding to a question by Job Sikhala (MDC, St Mary’s) as to why he had remained silent on accusations that he interferes with the judiciary.


Chinamasa’s statement on the media, if it represents government’s view, puts paid to any hopes of equitable media coverage of political groupings in the build-up to next year’s election. The Sadc guidelines make clear that equal access to the public media is a fundamental condition of democratic due process. Without it, voters cannot make an informed choice.


As Paul Berenger made clear, that includes access to radio and television.

So within 24 hours of Zimbabwe signing the Grande Baie protocol ministers were dreaming up ways to circumvent both the spirit and letter of that agreement.


Is this the beginning of Zimbabwe’s disregard for the electoral principles which President Mugabe spoke so highly about on his return from Mauritius? It certainly looks like it.

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