Nomination court proceedings ahead of the 2018 elections were held on the 14th of June. This report assesses the media’s performance in the ten days following the sitting of the nomination courts. Fifteen national and regional news platforms were monitored.
The study assessed the nature of the media’s coverage on:
- space and time allocated to political parties and candidates
- the tone of coverage of parties and candidates
- gender and youth representation
- nature of programming on election issues
- news media’s election agenda, and
- the conduct of news media in reporting election related news.
The study of this 10-day period concluded that:
- There is heavy bias in favour of ZANU PF – the ruling party and its candidates, in election coverage particularly in state-owned and public media. ZANU PF received 45% of all coverage, 75% in state newspapers (Chronicle, Herald and The Sunday Mail) and 54% on ZBC TV and radio stations (Classic263 formerly SFM and Radio Zimbabwe).
- There is little diversity of the number of political parties covered by the media. Of the 55 political parties that registered interest in contesting the election in July, 45 were mentioned in the media. ZANU PF and MDC Alliance received 64% of coverage and the remaining 43 (including independent candidates) were covered in the remaining 36% space.
- Allocation of space in news and current affairs programmes has been distinctly unfair in state owned and public media. State newspapers for example gave 61% more space to ZANU PF than the MDC Alliance, with a 51% difference between the parties on ZBC. The rest of the other parties were given even less time and space.
- Overall the tone of coverage of political parties has been neutral and free of bias, the media has however been polarised in their representation of ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance. ZANU PF has enjoyed more positive coverage in the state controlled media and the MDC Alliance has received more positive coverage in the privately owned press.
- Representation of women is low; women make up just 15% of all political players in the media
Source: Media Monitors