Media coverage during the last year general elections in Zimbabwe was in favour of male candidates while their female counterparts had to endure negative coverage on social media, a Media Monitors (MM) official has said.
By Tapera Gwezhira in Mutare
Speaking during the ‘discussion on media performance during the July 30 elections in Zimbabwe’, held at Manica Skyview hotel in Mutare on March 26, MM researcher Prisiel Samu said gender representation is still a concern in Zimbabwe given that they only received nine percent of the media coverage in the local media.
Samu said women have to do something extra-ordinary to be given front page spaces in the media.
“It is very rare to see stories on women appearing on front pages or on the main news in the mainstream media. They could have done something which is remarkably good unlike their male counterparts”, Samu said.
“Ninety-one percent of media coverage was given to male candidates with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa dominating in the coverage. We also discovered some challenges in programming as female candidates were overshadowed by male candidates in prime time programming”, added Samu.
He said women candidates fell victims of hate speech on social media platforms especially those who choose to stand on their own against the will of male candidates.
“Jessie Majome was victimized on social media after her decision to stand as an independent candidate as she cited unfairness in the MDC-Alliance primaries. Joice Mujuru also fell victim of hate speech for her decision to snub Chamisa’s call for coalition which was named ‘the big tent’.
Thokozani Khupe was the most affected women presidential candidate on social media after her decision to breakaway from Chamisa after a leadership dispute following the death of their party founder Morgan Tsvangirai,” Samu said.
However, it came to light in the discussions that most women would shy away from the media compared to their male counterparts.
Journalists argued that female candidates especially those who were vying for presidency have less confidence, hence they shy away from the media.
Female journalists who attended the event said workshops should be conducted across the country to encourage women to be strong and courageous when they choose to make decisions especially in politics while journalists were encouraged to report fairly on stories concerning female politicians.
Samu said male and female candidates competing for the same political post should be given equal time and opportunity to campaign on all media platforms.