ZIMBABWE – CorrespondentIf there is a typical example of a crumpling regime change agenda project, it has to be the closure of The Zimbabwean newspaper. Fabrication of news and ultimately lack of funding sealed the fate of the rabid tabloid.The paper was somewhat a conveyer belt of lies aimed at fuelling agitation against the Zanu-PF government. Other regime change projects facing financial distress include civic society and the MDC formations in their various guises. The Zimbabwean, which was launched in 2005 to enhance the MDC-T’s chances of dislodging Zanu-PF, was not grounded in the local market as it relied on donor funding to remain afloat.
Donors dumped the paper recently after discovering that it was a spent force with no strategy to succeed in its mission. Without necessarily sounding alarmist, the development comes as a wakeup call to the rest of the private press who of late have been flouting media professionalism with impunity, concocting news on their desks devoid of any truth.
Hence, The Zimbabwean’s closure does not come as a surprise given the recent outcry over most independent newspapers’ inflammatory and incredible stories which are politically-partisan and sensationalised.
One thing for sure is The Zimbabwean wasn’t a reliable news source and should have learnt the lesson from a Zimbabwean resident regime change activist, Andrew Meldrum. The American chap had to suffer a humiliating exposure as his lies caught up with him. Wilf Mbanga, the publisher of the tabloid, had to hide behind the finger and insinuate there was advertiser and vendor intimidation in Zimbabwe resulting in the paper closing down.
He was quoted as saying: “We also wish to record our grateful thanks to the many donors from many different nations who provided the monetary support for us to be able to produce a paper in an economy characterised by fear – where advertisers were too afraid to support us.”
The bottom line is you can only go so far with lies before they unravel and the paper’s closure – the chickens are coming home to roost. Certainly no sane advertiser would want to associate themselves with such a disreputable publication as it has a bearing on the survival of their business. The media business takes time to cultivate trust in its readership as well as realise substantial profits.
Pressure overwhelms the private press in providing so called alternative news. This results in the construction of perceived reality which doesn’t reflect facts. Apparently there is a relationship among media text, audiences and reception. Content and editorial policy failed to manage the delicate relationship that exists in these three elements. Zimbabweans want hope not oracles of doom.
This is why Zanu-PF and President Mugabe have remained popular as per the MPOI’s research findings. Their pro-people policies saw them make a clean sweep of the MDC-T in the 2013 harmonized elections.
The Zimbabwean has been operating in the same environment with The Herald and The Sunday Mail but their purported reasons for their closure are only peculiar to themselves. The media as a citizen existing in Zimbabwe can only survive with a message which appeals to the rest of Zimbabweans.
Such is the case with The Herald and The Sunday Mail, they report progress and development rather than dwelling on imagined factional fights, and creating where they do not exist. The Daily News on the other hand is limping as evidenced by their relocation from the Harare central business district to Msasa.
It is no longer business as usual as they are failing to sustain their businesses and the trend can only continue. Citizens are not empty vessels which can be filled with any type of hogwash and lies. Nothing materialised out of their lies and the judgemental eye of the readers is playing the barometer.
The media ought to report and behave responsibly so that they contribute to the development of Zimbabwe. This serves to advise journalists to be prudent and make wise choices as far as sustainable media are concerned. Lies can render them jobless at any given time as is the case with those at The Zimbabwean.
After all there wasn’t anything Zimbabwean about The Zimbabwean.