Judiciary is junior to media

The role of media is simply the dissemination of information, necessary in making legal decisions. Unfortunately, an uneducated society can be susceptible to believing anything. What comes from the mainstream media is branded true, even when clearly false. This has always been the case in Zimbabwe, beginning with the government’s capture of Zimbabwe Newspapers, ZBC, and its subsidiaries.

On paper, the judiciary appears professionally equipped to deliver fair justice.  But in Zimbabwe, the media is the one more empowered, leading to what translates into justice delivery. The government of Zimbabwe has been entrenched, not legalistically, but by unethical media coverage.

The ZANU PF government captured public media, for the purpose of crafting policies enjoining their one-party state agenda. The power of the media is, actually, what justifies the common ruling that any matter openly handled in courts, should not be debated in public media.

The popularization of the 2017 coup, actually, validated my perception of media supremacy. Even as ED lost to Nelson Chamisa, the Malaba-led constitutional court played by what had been captured in the media, especially the ZBC/TV.

Even the major governments of the world can easily be influenced by the media. Consider what recently transpired in the chaotic outcome of election results in the USA. Donald Trump’s Twitter account had to be blocked.

Otherwise, his communication had been gaining momentum in influencing public thinking. The Americans have to be grateful for an effective constitutional provision, separating institutions from government. In countries with weak institutions, the media is above everything, leaving the judiciary incapacitated.

In the USA example, the electoral outcome judgment could have easily succumbed. The judiciary was constantly bombarded by the reportage that elections had been stolen, although without facts on the ground.

In our Zimbabwean situation, Douglas Mwonzora is now legally confirmed as MDC leader. This follows the media games, rather than legally justified. His authentication was carefully crafted and peddled in the media, without the consideration of truth on the ground.

The majority of our people now speak without hesitation that Douglas Mwonzora is legally confirmed as leader of MDC. Interestingly, even Chamisa supporters now seem as backing down, as if to be seen as respecting the laws of the land. But it does not even need esoteric legal analysis to appreciate that such shameful processes do not attract legal authentication.

This is when examining the numbers of those who voted for Chamisa at the last election. What else can legitimize a political leader, except the numbers on the ground? Is it any wonder that, currently, the media seems as playing down the unhandled six-million-dollar fraud case against Douglas Mwonzora?

The chaotic MDCT Extra-Ordinary Congress, on 27 December 2020 is being deliberately played down by the mainstream media. The embracing of that election result has become acceptable to ordinary people, as sustained in the media.

The constitution of the MDC was indeed violated. The Supreme Court was justified in pointing out the anomaly. The judgment was fair but overtaken by events. The Supreme Court, actually, remarked that the judgment was moot, having been overtaken by events.

The judgment could not be implementable after a series of other legal aspects had been concluded. The same courts had already granted Thokozani Khuphe’s party to register as MDC T in the 2018 elections. In other words, had Khuphe won in those elections, MDC T would have formed a government, without necessarily having to invite the MDCA supporters.

Similarly, had Chamisa won, MDCA would have been declared winner, without legal hindrance implications. This does not require complicated legal deliberations. The two MDC factions led different political parties, and legally got accepted for purposes of contesting the 2018 elections.

Hence, Nelson Chamisa’s elevation to the leadership of the MDCA party cannot be reversed, on the reason of moot judgment. Even if biased, the Supreme Court judgment is not legally implementable, except using it for future considerations.

The cited MDC constitution empowers the MDC National Council to handle urgent legal matters, when deemed necessary, outside congress. The Council was, therefore, properly constituted, when appointing Nelson Chamisa as acting president, after Tsvangirai’s death.

There may have been those opposing the decision. But, the simple majority carries the day. This is how functional democracies operate. Chamisa’s authentication was later confirmed by over two million voters, during the 2018 elections. Let alone the outcome of the MDCA Congress of May 2019, ratifying Chamisa’s legitimacy, as that party’s president.

Unfortunately, most Zimbabweans value money more than themselves. The talk is always about Zimbabwe, being rich with mineral and agricultural resources. That talk has got nothing to do with Zimbabwe being rich with ethical people who can then be entrusted with those minerals and agricultural resources.

Foreigners, seeking to invest in Zimbabwe, should be attracted by people, more than by the country’s natural resources. That is what true value entails. The entrepreneurial motivational speakers spend most of their time trying to convince young people to become business-minded.

Nothing appears wrong with that. Except seeming as directed at making a person look better in the eyes of other business people. In other words, entrepreneurs are deemed successful when living in good houses and driving expensive cars. This is what produces corruption, as alluded to, with media practitioners.

Many people spend time aiming at the accumulation of wealth, so as to be considered successful. That misrepresentation is what has killed Africa, regardless of the origin of such falsehoods. The infallible truth is that a human being is more valuable than the car that he drives or his residential home.

“In Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. …..‘Please come at once!’ Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes and seeing Peter she sat up” (Acts 9:36-40) (NIV).

The above Scripture describes the meaning of human value. Dorcas was not a businesswoman, necessarily. She catered for those unable to recompense her noble activities. Her miraculous resurrection testifies that no good service goes unrewarded, whether in this life or in the coming life.

The value of an individual cannot be replaced by money. But Jesus encouraged His disciples to do philanthropic activities in secret, to avoid being viewed as better than others in society. His teachings confirmed the insidiousness of receiving adulations from other people but losing out on the heavenly reward.

 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4) (NIV).

Clearly, Jesus was curbing corruption against ever tainting His disciples. The desire to be seen driving expensive cars, or being admired for doing good to ordinary people can all be lumped up as corruption. One’s dignity is preserved, only when not displaying how good one is, among other people.

The story of Dorcas is not, necessarily, meant to inspire others to behave similarly. Likewise, the story of the Good Samaritan is not intended to inspire admiration for doing well. A human being is basically good, as created in God’s image. One’s greatest contribution could be that of raising good children, for instance.

Value is found in what one does for other people, not what is done for one. This is common sense. Some people are dead, even before they die. In other words, we have meaningless funerals, conducted for useless people, in society. The value of an individual is when doing what is good for others, rather than being a liability.

Currently, the Courts are labeled as succumbing to state conflation. There may be truth in that allegation, but impossible, without media support. The mainstream media is controlled by the government—comprising Zimbabwe Newspapers, ZBC, and its subsidiaries. The Private media is treacherously declared as independent, yet still under government control.

Private media is owned by entrepreneurs, in business for making profits, more than serving the public interest. Ordinary people may entertain assumptions that private media is different from government Newspapers, but that can be fallacious.

No sane person can rely on the private media for accurate information dissemination. Surviving in an economically strangulated environment, profit-makers cannot avoid bribes. It is stretching too much to assume that private media is corruption-free. Let alone individual journalists, covering news stories.

It is possible that many horrendous cases are swept under the carpet, when politically sensitive. Court judgments are based on information projected by the media. Hence, seeking to appear as not tarnishing Mwonzora’s authenticity, confirming his dubious leadership of the MDCT. Everything was churned for him in the media.

Unfortunately, there have been social media skirmishes, exposing Mwonzora’s duplicity. It is for this reason that government is now viciously pushing for constitutional amendments. One of the amendments concerns a cybersecurity law. Making punishable, anything unapproved by the ruling-class criminals.

Apparently, Zimbabweans are seized with decrying constitutional amendments, pushed by ZANU PF. Especially the one giving more powers to the President. However, nothing is as crucial as the cybersecurity law. The judiciary capture is, actually, less effective when compared to muzzling the media.

The supreme presidential powers are validated by the media. Presidential powers cannot prejudice ordinary people, as long as the media is given free space. If granted full powers at his disposal, except muzzling the media, a dictatorial President becomes uncomfortable.

Only an honest dictator would grant free media space. But, where can one find honest dictators, with good intentions? Perhaps, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, might be one, representing such few exceptions, as justifying dictatorial behavior?

Good governance starts with free media. Opposition parties can scream and wail, complaining about unlimited presidential powers. But without liberating the media, that would be wasting time. Even with lesser powers, but curbing the media, the effects of dictatorship remain.

Currently, social media seems as doing well. True, there are falsehoods, churned out in social media. Such falsehoods can be punishable, even without having crafted special laws. Nevertheless, a man with a clean conscience cannot, necessarily, be hurt by falsehoods. The entire state media should not be owned by the government. Information should be crude, but as ethical as possible.

Like other folks, publishers should be allowed to support political parties of their choice, as long as maintaining ethical conduct. The existence of multiple, but legally instituted media channels can provide true freedom. Profits should not be determined by unethical conduct, but by ethical conduct. This can be achievable when embracing the dream of humanity.

Individual Zimbabweans should be independent, but appreciating their impact on other people. This is just as the livingness of other people impacts on that individual. The principle of one-man-one-vote works well when each person respects himself. The principle starts with appreciating being more valuable than money.

Many poor mothers wrongly assume that good parenting implies spoiling children with good gifts. There cannot be better mothers than those teaching their children good principles, like serving other people. Such opportunities could come, even when employed by other people, as housekeepers.

The most important thing is to serve in whatever is considered good. As commensurate with the person’s own resources and background. This is a mindset that first needs to be ingrained in the minds of media practitioners. Journalists should be viewed as public educators.

It is shameful when those gifted writers get so corrupted as to be used in publishing propaganda. Zimbabwe has become a laughing stock, the world over. But everything starts with media practitioners. Accumulation of wealth cannot be more valuable than developing one’s nation through responsible news coverage.

While many people blame the courts for the deterioration of justice delivery, everything starts with information dissemination. Those judges can be guided through truthful information from the media. The courts are susceptible to err when provided with untruthful information, churned from the corrupt media.

Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope. accolade

The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99

Also available as an e-copy at Lulu.com  for $6.99