"Media hype more Western froth and bubble": Peter Mavunga, a Zimbabwean journalist based in Britain, writes about the "single-minded preoccupation of the Western media with demonising Zimbabwe and propping up the opposition, especially Morgan Tsvangirai, well above his station.

Author:Mavunga, Peter
Position:ZIMBABWE: Sponsored supplement - Movement for Democratic Change

The British government and Western media campaign against Zimbabwe is notable for its rabid bias; what is said or written has no concern for the truth or balance, that is getting the other side's point of view. It has a single-minded preoccupation with demonising Zimbabwe and propping up the opposition, especially Morgan Tsvangirai, well above his station.


All this is at variance with the age-old notion of British fair play, if ever it existed. When I was studying journalism in London, my tutor was at pains to emphasise that there were always two sides to a story and the views of both sides ought to be reported.

From what has been written about Zimbabwe over the past few weeks, though, you might be excused to think that Morgan Tsvangirai, the "blameless" leader of one faction of the MDC, was the head of state while the president of the republic has a monopoly of doing wrong.

The disturbances that occurred in the Harare suburb of Highfield at the beginning of March this year caused injuries to both sides, yet the way the story was reported tells a different story. British newspapers have a selective memory. Police officers who were petrol-bombed by MDC youths are real people serving the people of Zimbabwe, but they do not exist in the psyche of the British media.

British journalists saw only Tsvangirai as the victim of the "violence" of Zimbabwe's state apparatus. In their newspapers, they splashed Tsvangirai in a hospital bed with "serious" head injuries but giving long telephone interviews to journalists abroad. They did not see anything else. The violence by the opposition never features in the vocabulary of the British media, neither is it given any consideration by those who serve in the government led by Tony Blair.


If you asked them, the journalists would say they are banned from Zimbabwe and, therefore, cannot report what they don't see. The question is, why were they banned in the first place? Was it something to do with their amnesia and selective memory when it comes to reporting Zimbabwe? More to the point, how are they able to report so much about Tsvangirai then?

A few years ago, there was media frenzy in the UK when The Guardian featured a frontpage story asserting that a female MDC supporter had been decapitated by a bunch of Zanu PF youths in Magunje, Karoi. The story was a complete fabrication but as it fitted neatly into the agenda of the British government and media, it...

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