I saw this announcement about a Team Zanu PF Cabinet Supplement in The Herald yesterday, and (naively, I know) I got excited to see the supplement today. I thought it would contain useful information like profiles on the ministers and their portfolios. Maybe it would have brief descriptions of the priorities of each ministry, or a few call out comments from each minister about their hopes for their ministries, and the challenges they would face in delivery.
Instead, the supplement features:
- A photo line up of 30 ministers and their names and portfolios
- “How the President came up with his team,” an article quoting Mugabe’s press conference on the announcement of Cabinet.
- The full transcript of Mugabe’s press conference on the announcement of Cabinet.
- A full page photo spread of the Cabinet members being sworn in.
- “Cabinet blends youth, experience” article
- “Business, labour welcome new Cabinet” article
- “Ministers promise to deliver” article
- Congratulatory messages to the new Cabinet and individual ministers, in the form of full colour display adverts
The actual “meat” of the supplement – articles, comments, information and journalism – takes up less than 3 pages of the supplement; the congratulatory messages take up more than 11. So, more than one week after Cabinet has been announced, the state’s newspaper cannot do anything substantial to inform the Zimbabwean people about these new ministers, their backgrounds, qualifications or responsibilities. Holding one’s government accountable is difficult enough at the best of times. If Zimbabwe’s state newspaper can’t outline even basic facts about the country’s ministers and their portfolios, where do the rest of us begin.