By Talkmore Thulani Gandiwa
Trends of media coverage were unfair to some political parties during the 2018 election period, a Media Monitors official has said.
Addressing trainee journalists at Harare Polytechnic, Media Monitors Senior Researcher Prisiel Samu said a total number of 47 political parties were covered in the media during the electoral period. This represents 85% of the political parties but the coverage was unjust to some.
“ZANU PF, MDC Alliance and Independent candidates dominated the news coverage in the media, accounting for 84% of the coverage across all media and the remaining 16% was distributed to the remaining 44 political parties.” Samu has said.
Adding on he said ZANU PF dominated on ZBC with 48% followed by MDC Alliance, APA and NCA with 6% each.
Independent candidates dominated local commercial radio stations with 30% through interviews, MDC Alliance got 25%and ZANU PF got 19%.
ZANU PF got 76% in the Government controlled press and MDC Alliance was accountable for 17%.
“Presidential coverage has been biased towards the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who received 57% of coverage in all media, followed by Nelson Chamisa of MDC Alliance with 15% and Nkosana Moyo of APA with 5%.” Samu has said.
The official said men were frequently seen on electronic media than women as they accumulated 89%ofthe coverage as compared to 11% o women.
“Youth political actors were extremely marginalized during the election period, accounting 4% of the coverage.” Samu has said.
Local commercial radios gave the most coverage to political actors aged between 18 and 34 as they made up 13% of the coverage.
Samu said youth were mostly implicated in the stories of politically motivated violence and vessels of dissent.
While election coverage was predominantly neutral, ZANU PF and MDC Alliance gain a higher percentage of positive or negative sentiment than any other party.
Coverage of ZANU PF was more predominantly positive in the government controlled media both print and broadcast as compared to MDC Alliance received negative coverage.
“Private media carried both positive and negative sentiment on ZANU PF and MDC Alliance in almost equal measure.” Samu has said.
The media coverage was unbalanced such that ZANU PF got more than half of the coverage making up 52%of space and time recorded.
“There was a significant decline in cases of hate speech in the main stream media during the electoral period as compared with 2013 presidential elections.” Samu has said.
In his closing remarks he encouraged journalists to abide by the Electoral Act to insure balanced reports, and abide by the constitution.