For the past two weeks or so, I have been in my hometown, Bulawayo spending time and catching up with family and other folk. Since most of my time is spent in South Africa, I decided that for a change, I would watch the news on the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), just to see if there is now greater objectivity in the reporting since the inception of reforms by the Zimbabwean unity government. This action by me raised some eyebrows from family members. Why?
Well those of you who live in Zimbabwe or have been there within the last decade will testify to that fact that in most urban homes where there is a TV set, there is usually a satellite dish and some form of satellite decoder. Of course only the well off subscribe to DSTV, but even those who cannot afford DSTV have invested in one of the free to air decoders that enable them to view the SABC channels, France 24, Sky News and a host of other freely available international channels. All this is because they are sick of the biased, raw deal that they receive from the ZBC. My switching to ZBC (a.k.a Dead B.C) therefore was bound to have raised some eyebrows.
Well I was in for a surprise. I had hoped to see local news coverage that would enable me to gauge if the news is still dominated by Pro Zanu-PF propaganda and anti MDC bile. Instead it seemed South African news had followed me into Zimbabwe, literally and figuratively. Literally by way of the ANC Youth League motor mouth Julius Malema being in Zimbabwe at that time. He was shown in Harare, wining and dining with Absalom Sikhosana, Supa Mandiwanzira and other big shot Zanu (not-so-youthful) "youth leaders".
There was Jules, touring the Heroes Acre shrine and heaping praise on the "success stories" of the new Zimbabwean farmers who took over farms from evicted commercial farmers. I wondered if he knew that those farms that he visited were run by the wealthy politicians with the means to be successful in their farming ventures. Was he at all taken to visit the many other farms that stand bare and depleted, having been acquired by poor war vets with no farming credentials or capacity? What I have said and many others have said was confirmed; that the ANC led South African government is biased towards Zanu PF and are therefore not neutral brokers of the unity government.
Then there was more headline news, this time reports that the leader of the South African white supremacy group- AWB, Eugene Terreblance had been murdered on his farm. Again Malema rocked up, this time refusing to comment on the murder and accusations that his hate song "Shoot the Boer," influenced the murder. He pleaded ignorance about the murder, insisting that because he was in Zimbabwe, he could not comment on events taking place in South Africa.
Later on, on my way back to South Africa, I read that when he got back to South Africa, Julius had more to say at a press conference about how the ANC will never listen to the MDC and how wonderful Zanu-PF and Robert Mugabe are. He also insulted and booted a BBC journalist out of the press conference for reminding him that he lives in the very affluent area of Sandton that he negatively associated with the MDC in his negative speech. I guess that should be the way he feels and behaves, seeing as he has learnt a lot from Zanu PF and its allies.
I also got wind of the story about my former high school classmate Chris Maroleng, now TV anchor and host on South Africa’s ETV. He had to handle a fierce row on his Prime Time news spot. This was after one of Terreblanche's AWB allies almost physically assaulted one of the other participants on the heated news interview that dealt with Terreblanche's murder and race relations in South Africa. Well thank goodness you have over the years put some flesh on your body, Chris buddy, you wouldn't have had the stamina to block and reprimand the would-be assailant!
Talk about a week of drama, tragedy, action, rhetoric and more drama. In a way the questions that I had about the ZBC were not fully answered but for the past few days, whether one was watching ZBC, SABC, E-News, reading the Sunday Times or The Chronicle, it did not matter. The news was all the same, and the key word was DRAMA!