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I challenge any balanced and independent journalist with a shred of moral accountability to review the BBC’s reporting of the Zimbabwean elections and to declare it to be impartial. I single out the BBC for particular criticism as it is an organisation consumed by its own lofty, conceited opinion of itself as balanced, impartial and upholding the highest standards of journalistic integrity.

One need only tune in to immediately notice the overwhelming number of MDC commentators or anti-Mugabe vox-pops given airtime to recognise that the BBC has an axe to grind. Their reporting is nothing short of the worst kind of propaganda and a deliberate manipulation of British public opinion.

In the weeks leading up to the elections my stomach has turned watching these transparent BBC reports all geared towards shaping the public’s perception of the elections and its outcome. The options the BBC has given its viewers is quite simple; if Mugabe loses the elections it is because the people have voted for overwhelming change; if Mugabe wins, it is because he rigged the elections. By what definition can that be described as impartial journalism, much less the high journalistic standards which the BBC claims to uphold?

The unfortunate result of such a travesty is that the British public remain ignorant to the real debates and issues raging in Zimbabwe and the wider African continent and still remain enslaved to the one-dimensional media construct of the ‘dark, corrupt, disease ridden, war ravaged’ continent that needs to be saved by the humanitarian and altruistic intervention of neo-liberalism.

Why is Britain and its media so irked and hyper-sensitive about Mugabe’s Zimbabwe? Why not indulge its viewers in the shenanigans of the rest of the continent? Why don’t they inform the British public of President Hosni Mubarak of Eygpt’s electoral fraud where he claimed 90% of the vote? Perhaps they are silent as Eygpt is the second largest recipient of US aid and is an ally of the West. Why not educate the British public to the fact that over five million Africans have died over the past ten years in a war that has ravaged the Congo and has been described as the most brutal and violent conflict in Africa’s long history? Perhaps because US and European fingerprints and DNA may also be found amidst the debris of the conflict.

Africa and its people’s desires and determinations deserve to be represented fairly and impartially. If the British media wish to examine Zimbabwean politics and determine the will of the Zimbabwean electorate, then they ought to be non-partisan and present the various views and opinions as they exist without attempting to influence the electoral outcome or prejudice public opinion. The tsunami of anti-Mugabe BBC voices has no doubt already had its desired effect. We heard from John Simpson reporting from a ‘secret’ location in Harare: “It is clear that something is going on with the election count… For years South Africa has promised to do something but nothing has been done.” Peter Biles: “Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe can only get worse.” George Alagiah: “Here from the border of South Africa tens of thousands of Zimbabweans are flooding back over the border with the hope of winning their country back from the ‘despotic’ Robert Mugabe.” All of this has been said before the vote has even been counted and without any investigation into vote rigging. In fact, the African observers on the ground have declared the elections free and fair, but as many already know, African opinion means nothing to condescending Western commentators. The most enlightened comments came from Zimbabwean Political Analyst George Shire who said: “The problem of the media in the West is that you want to project yourself into the narrative of Zimbabwean politics… We have yet to see how people will react by having their hopes raised.”

I remain convinced that Britain and its media would have shown no interest in Zimbabwe had Mugabe not seized white farms. Let’s cut the pretense and talk straight; this is not about corruption, hyper inflation, the massacres in Matebeleland or the desire for free and fair elections; this is about Britain protecting its interests and the white Zimbabweans who are trustees and custodians of it. The BBC and those journalists who have willingly licensed their comments so that they can continue to pay their mortgages have brought shame upon the profession of journalism. The BBC has demonstrated its ability to impersonate Fox News; however it is time it returned to the type of journalism that justly earned it it's international reputation as being fair, balanced and impartial. For those of you who may be wondering, I am not a Mugabe supporter; rather, I believe that he should have stepped aside a long time ago and allowed fresh energy to rejuvenate Zimbabwean politics; it's a pity that the only known antidote to Mugabeism is the ‘great white hope’ Morgan Tsvangirai, for this can only bode for a lose/lose situation for Zimbabwe and her people.

Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr.
Editor, riceNpeas.com

1st April 2008
EDITORIAL: BBC's Zimbabwe Propaganda