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Media fabrications impede economic recovery efforts
By Dambudzo Muparanga
May 23, 2009, The Herald
ONE can make out a pattern when it comes to the popularity of the Zimbabwe Government in the West before the Land Reform Programme and after its inception. The reason for this is not because the Government did something out of this world, the Government – all things considered – did a good thing for its people. The only unfortunate thing is that in today’s world those with the money control the flow of information and if anyone crosses their path the wolves are released within seconds.
Such is the case with Zimbabwe.
The history of land in Zimbabwe has never been seriously discussed by any of the prominent broadcasts and newspapers across the globe and this is not by coincidence. Watching BBC, CNN and the rest one would think that from nowhere black people in Zimbabwe woke up one day and decided to violently take over white-owned farms. The truth is, however, very sad.
A close scrutiny of who owns what in the media world will prove quite revealing.There are but a handful of media groups in the West that control just about everything their audiences’ and those across the globe see or read.
The biggest media group in the world is based in New York City – the News Corporation, which is owned by the right-winger Republican Rupert Murdoch. Time Warner, another American corporation, is considered the world’s second largest media company. Close behind these two comes the German based Bertelsmann AG, which operates in 63 countries; Hearst Communications, which is also based in New York City, is the largest group when it comes to print media and fourth in line. These four companies control the flow of information on the Internet, newsprint, film, publishing, telecommunications and television across the globe. These companies are privately owned and in such circumstances there is no impartiality to talk about. For instance, the Foundation, which the Mohn family set up to run its 76 percent stake of Bertelsmann, is a political think tank.
Murdoch’s News Corporation holds an annual conference to discuss media issues related to geopolitics open only to selected politicians, senior journalists and celebrities.Notable attendees have included loosing American presidential candidate Senator John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Blair and Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres.One only needs to add one and one to make two. There is no way these media groups will ever give a balanced view of global political issues when their owners are major players in politics.
The British government appoints the BBC’s entire top management.
In fact one can safely say the BBC is a mouthpiece of the British government. This being said, how then could the BBC be expected to report objectively concerning Zimbabwe?
CNN while privately owned is known to first check with the US State Department to ensure that any reports they might flight are in line with America’s foreign policy. The monopoly of global media houses is very impressive. They have managed to deceive their audience that it has a choice and yet all they are getting is the same witch on a different broom. Looking at our own region of Southern Africa one can get this choice through satellite channels.
A run down of these channels will prove that the majority of these channels are divided between these companies. BBC, CNN, know their loyalties are with their respective governments. Sky News is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp; Al-Jazeera has become a BBC clone, which is run by David Frost the white haired guy formerly of BBC. Bloomberg News is of course the baby of billionaire Mayor of New York City, the Republican Michael Bloomberg.
Apart from these conglomerates, the US government has established a plethora of pirate radio stations that churn vitriol against nations perceived to be threats to the US foreign policy. Our own regional media has not lagged behind when it comes to spreading capitalistic opinions and strategic US foreign policies disguised as news.
In a bid to be seen as being on top of things in gathering news, many have picked up stories from the major news media and have run them without any research or verification of their own. This is a common practice in the media fraternity.
I recall last year the internationally acclaimed New York Times was forced to make a retraction after splashing pictures of a child with rickets claiming he was a victim of political violence in Zimbabwe. It turned out this was false and the mother admitted that she had been urged by some "political activists" to do this so she could get money for her child’s treatment.
From all this it goes without say that there is no way the global media would have embraced Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme when it goes against the institutions of capitalism.
The British government, which was the other party involved in the land issue, was able to exploit the mechanisms within the media establishment to demonise a move the Government of Zimbabwe made which when objectively scrutinised is decent and legitimate. What we got from the media and still continue to get are sensationalist pictures, deceiving information that portrayed a totally wrong picture of what the Land Reform Programme is all about.
That Zimbabwe’s heroes, Ambuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi, were hanged because of the violent resistance they marshalled against the parceling of land to colonial settlers is conveniently ignored by the likes of Peta Thorncraft and company, BBC, Sky News and even our neighbours at SABC who should know better. It is like discussing American history and leaving out Abraham Lincoln, or British history without Queen Elizabeth or even South African history without Nelson Mandela. Most importantly these media houses conveniently never explain why thousands of Zimbabweans perished in the two wars they love to describe as the Rhodesian Bush War.
When the history of the war of Zimbabwe’s liberation is shown on ZTV it becomes propaganda but no one thinks it is propaganda when the BBC goes to great lengths in support of its annexation war on the Falklands war with Argentina.
The classification of Cecil John Rhodes as a pioneer of great standing demonstrates just how far apart Zimbabweans are from the British establishment and its media magnates. Despite being called all forms of vile words ranging from "cowards" to others that cannot be mentioned in polite society, the support of the AU to Zimbabwe is unquestionable.
The reason that no African leader worth his salt would discredit the work the Government of Zimbabwe did in restoring a vital resource to its rightful owners is because Zimbabwe is an example of the disparities left by colonialism. The wave of attention and applause that President Mugabe received at the inauguration of South African President Jacob Zuma came as a surprise to most of our media friends who were expecting him to be ignored like a poor cousin.
President Mugabe is a hero among his African brothers who acknowledge the sacrifices he has made fighting white oppression. It was not cowardice that made the AU support Zimbabwe but it was the fact that as Africans they understood where President Mugabe was coming from and knew how it felt like to be in his shoes.
The global media failed to understand this because to them the Zimbabwe case was judged by Western standards, which were in fact a major cause of the problem in Zimbabwe. Right at the beginning the AU made its position clear by stating that the inequitable colonial distribution of land where 1 percent of the population owned over 70 percent of the best arable land in Zimbabwe was the core of the political, economic and social struggle.
Recognition was given to the fact that the British government was frustrating the Land Reform Programme by not only refusing to meet the commitments it made at the Lancaster House Conference, but by introducing extraneous political issues into the land question and also by attempting to internationalise a bilateral dispute between itself and Zimbabwe.
Such bare facts have never seen the light of day in any Western newspaper. The AU also applauded Zimbabwe for its determination to engage Britain to resolve once and for all the land question and urged Britain to respond positively to Zimbabwe’s readiness to engage in dialogue. It condemned Britain’s move to mobilise European and North American countries to isolate and vilify Zimbabwe leading to the imposition of formal and informal sanctions.
Again such bold facts and statements are never interrogated on any Western TV channel. It seems as if they such facts do not exit.
If media reports from the Western world were to be believed, the beneficiaries of land reform have largely been political cronies.By focusing on a few individuals within Zanu-PF structures who have benefited from the Land Reform Programme, the media create an illusion and yet people from all walks of life benefited from this initiative. Even those in the two MDCs have been allocated land through the reform process. MDC chief whip in the Senate, Senator Orbert Gutu, was in fact one of the first beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme. He was allocated a farm in the Chinhoyi area where he tried among other things cattle ranching.
Even now as the inclusive Government makes strides, many of his colleagues are clamouring to have land allocated to them as they have realised – like he did a long time ago – that agriculture is the way to go. The truth is that land is key to economic development and for so long black Zimbabweans have been denied access to this resource and unless they fight for it, land will never be given back willingly.