ACCORDING to a recent BBC report, Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change has called on all readers of and advertisers in daily newspapers in Zimbabwe to boycott state-owned broadsheets such as the Herald and the Sunday Mail.
Regardless of one’s political affiliation in today’s Zimbabwe, and in whatever light one views the government’s economic policies and its land redistribution exercise, one has to come to terms with the stark realities facing us in this country – namely that there is corruption and graft on a grand scale.
Poverty and economic ruin are staring most households in the face, unemployment is at record levels, the education and health services are virtually non-existent in most quarters – and becoming unaffordable to even those fortunate enough to have access to private schools and hospitals. In short, life is becoming untenable for the vast majority of Zimbabwe’s citizens.
Bearing in mind the above, and regardless of where one chooses to apportion blame for the miserable situation in which we find ourselves – be it the recent drought, EU and American sanctions against targeted individuals in the government, Western imperialism and neo-colonialism, sabotage of the land reform exercise by racist Rhodesian farmers, stooges and puppets of the West, on the one hand, or downright economic mismanagement through still-born and reactionary policies by a ruling clique bent on maintaining power come hell or high water on the other, we – as ordinary Zimbabweans – have to ask ourselves just one question:
Are the best interests of the country served by muzzling a newspaper that offers an alternative viewpoint to that peddled by the government – regardless of whether the Daily News is right or wrong in its presentation and interpretation of the prevailing situation? Will the closure of the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday be a favourable reflection of this country in the eyes of the international community? Can we “go it alone” indefinitely, with our so-called nationalistic fervour as our sole raison d’etre and can we determine and chart our destinies with scant regard to the laws of economics and prevailing world opinion?
There are those in Zimbabwe today who think that we are extremely naive or misguided to believe that we can forge ahead with policies that take little cognisance of fundamental economic laws, or the concerns of our main benefactors.
It is precisely for this reason that we need a vibrant and robust independent press. No government in the world has ever been best served by a sycophantic and adulatory group of journalists. Even the most dedicated, selfless and committed of world leaders are merely human and prone to errors of judgement, which the annals of history will recount.
In whichever country we live, and no matter how much we respect and admire our leaders, it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to ensure that alternative points of view are heard. It is the articulation and dissemination of divergent points of view that help weave the fabric of a dynamic society. After all, freedom of expression is enshrined in our nation’s constitution. We must guard that freedom and do our utmost to ensure its entrenchment.
It is for the reasons outlined above, and not for the sake of advocating the MDC’s political agenda, that I would encourage a total boycott of all state-owned and run media – by readers and advertisers alike – until such time as alternative voices such as the Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday are once again allowed to publish unhindered.