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Zimbabwe’s public media too obsessed with politics to cover climate change, charge church leaders

Clayton Masekesa

MUTARE – Zimbabwe’s church leaders this week accused the country’s public media of obsessing over partisan politics at the expense of covering climate change topics.

During a climate change church leaders’ conference held in the eastern border town of Mutare Wednesday – jointly organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), the church leaders said the public media was too fixated on political issues at the expense of stories that would educate the public on climate change.

Zimbabwe’s state media – transformed into a public relations tool for the ruling Zanu (PF) at the turn of the millennium, includes the sole television broadcasting service – The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and newspapers printed under the Zimbabwe Newspapers stable.

“We are worried that the ZBC and the state newspapers have not been giving priority to issues of climate change,” said Pastor Paul Mutizwa.

“The climate change story is important because it is a direct threat to the country’s socio- economic development, with a potential to reverse the hard-earned developmental gains achieved over the past decades. Why is it that the main news on ZBC is only about politics and the weather report is at the end of the bulletin, where many people would not even wait to watch?”

The church leaders also raised concerns over the incessantly inaccurate weather reports and forecasts from the Meteorological Department of Zimbabwe.

“We want to know what is happening because we have been receiving wrong forecasts for a long time. Is it because of the obsolete equipment or what? We are now depending on SABC channels that are giving us true weather forecasts,” added Pastor Mutizwa.

Trevor Manhanga from the Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe (PAOZ) said the church played a key role in emphasising the stewardship of resources, as well as justice around climate change issues.

“I want to urge church leaders to work tirelessly until the climate change issue is resolved. We should now make noise and engage the political leaders to act and implement the various policies crafted to mitigate climate change issues,” said Manhanga.

“We are in this mess because as churches we have been very quiet about these issues. When these politicians come to campaign for votes, we should tell them of our objectives as churches and these objectives must include climate change issues.”

The director of CNRG Farai Maguwu said it was unfortunate the news on state media was dominated by political news.

“Zimbabwe is on a permanent election mode. Sadly, the state media has been dominated by political news. There is no enough space for development, humanitarian, gender and climate change news. This is a major cause for concern,” said Maguwu.

Tafadzwa Dhlakama from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung said they organised a workshop with editors of various media houses, aimed at tackling climate change issues.

“Reporters might write articles on climate change but it lies with some editorial policies of various media houses. However, we have line up a workshop with the editors aimed at discussing how best we can work together on publishing articles on climate change,” Dhlakama said.

CNRG programmes coordinator Obrien Nhachi said the workshop was aimed at giving an over view of climate change issues with church leaders.

“We wanted to discuss climate change issues, drivers, impacts and actions within the church from a technical, financial and practical perspective,” said Nhachi, who added the church played a critical role on climate change issues within the community.

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