LOOKS like the crazy and silly season is upon us once again. So, so sad. Indeed, life is a performance and this world we are living in is but just a stage, the grand theatre where this performance is taking place.
On the other hand, the opposition press continues overestimating the power of the media. It’s as if we are still living in the 1930s, those days of the alleged Magic Bullet Theory when the media was said to be so powerful that it zombified people with its effects. The folly is just worrying in the 21st cen- tury.
Greetings vanhu vaMwari. Zvinondiwandira imi woye. But am back and uuummm, the performances going on and the machinations being planted all over the place are getting out of hand. Mumwe achachema manje, manje. Zii, zvavo Bishop for now.
So the opposition press is saying Vice President Mnangagwa is throwing some of his supporters under the bus? They said this in reference to the decision that was taken by the Zanu-PF Politburo to expel the reckless Energy Mutodi and relieve Women’s League Political Commissar Mabel Chinomona of her duties.
In its editorial last week, The Sunday Mail had called on the VP to clear his political deck of people like the suicidal Mutodi and the rabid Victor Matemadanda. Bishop Lazarus thinks the VP should not only throw people like Mutodi under the bus. He should get under the bus and crash such people personally. Kuita vekusvina kwazvo.
In fact, throwing them under the bus can be risky because such people zvinenge zvidembo. As we all know chidembo hachifi zvekumhanya. The VP should throw such people under the train where he is assured of maximum effect. These people have soiled his name for too long. Kuita kunge vakatumwa.
Anyway, those who understand political communication will tell you that the VP seems to have finally mastered the art of dealing with these spoilers. Kandai vanhu pasi petrain Cde VP.
Still with the VP. It’s his season so Bishop Lazarus hopes the VP won’t take it personal. The opposition press is on his case and if these were the days of the Magic Bullet Theory, VP Mnangagwa would be history.
Fortunately, VP Mnangagwa is not Joice Mujuru. He is still very much around despite the machinations and the relentless pressure from the opposition press.
“Mnangagwa, allies isolated,” “Grace confronts Mnangagwa,” “No deal with Mnangagwa: Tsvangirai,” “Mugabe ups attack on Mnangagwa,” “Mugabe moves in for the kill,” the headlines in the opposition press screamed over the last few days.
There are even whispers in the dark that “Ahh, Mnangagwa apera. G40 yatotora chinhu ichi.” Well, hapana chinhu chekutora because Gushungo vari tiii. Just wait and hear the accusations against the Bishop — “I have always known this Bishop is Lacoste,” others will even swear by their sorry mothers; “this Bishop has always been Lacoste.”
It’s so unfortunate some people have selective amnesia. Just check records. Bishop Lazarus was the only one who criticised VP Mnangagwa during the first days when he was appointed to that post after he held an unexplained meeting at his farm with some top Government officials. Nhasi ndoita Lacoste, imi vanhu itai mushe mhani. Ndibvirei kumhepo.
Anyway, the sermon goes on and please allow the Bishop to dig deep into some scholarly stuff because zviri kuitika izvi zvirimo mumagwaro efundo. A critical analysis of the way the opposition press is framing the VP Mnangagwa issue will help put things into perspective.
Let me quote part of what President Mugabe said on Friday while addressing the 106th Session of the Zanu-PF Central Committee. “Tinofanira kuzvirumbidza and sense of unity when insults and vilifications were thrown about — the President, First Lady have their share of these insults, several ministers and others had also these accusations, completely false, completely malicious and emanating from the same sources.
“Tinoda kuti vazvisvipe vange vachiita izvi, maprovince mazviri kubuda ndiwo atiri kukumbirisisa kuti vanatsoona kuti ndivanani? Zviri kubva papi nepapi? Zviri kuitirwei. Zviregedzwe . . .
“Our party must unite at all levels from the grassroots to the top. A united party knows how grievances within the party are corrected and how differences are resolved. We seek solutions amongst ourselves kana pane zviri kutadzwa . . .
“Kana kuchitorwa action, inotorwa vanorangwa vachirangwa. Kwete kungoshaudha. Iyoyo yakanzi social media iyoyi maiwee yakatiparira. Kutukana kuripo, kunyombana kuripo. Mazwi anotaurwa imomo!
“Tava vanhu vakaita sei? Vana vakaita sei vatiri kuzvara?
“Hatingade Zanu-PF yerudzi irworwo inotongwa from social media. Aiwa . . .” said the President.
From what the President said, reading the opposition press one is tempted to think that the President went all out attacking VP Mnangagwa. No, he didn’t. The President was preaching unity and peace in Zanu-PF.
Fortunately, the mischief by the opposition press can be explained.
Students of social science will tell you there is something called the framing theory which in very simple terms says the media focuses attention on certain events and then places them within a field of meaning.
The theory which some scholars say was propounded by Erving Goffman refers to how the media packages and presents information to the public.
According Goffman, the media highlights certain events and then places them within a particular context to encourage or discourage certain interpretations.
He says this way, the media exercises a selective influence over how people view reality.
Framing is sometimes referred to as second-level agenda setting because of its close relation to Agenda-Setting Theory, which focuses on the power of the media to set an agenda.
If we look at what the President said, he spoke about a number of important issues but because the opposition press want to encourage certain interpretations and plant certain meanings, they chose to zoom in on statements that made it appear as if the President was attacking VP Mnangagwa.
The President never mentioned VP Mnangagwa by name, but the opposition press went to town saying the President had gone after the VP.
Just as an example, the President spoke about the abuse of the social media and we all know that Professor Jonathan Moyo, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, Cde Patrick Zhuwao among others have also used the media to comment on Zanu-PF business.
This wasn’t a story because it wasn’t fitting into the frame for the opposition press.
The Bishop is not in any way trying to tell the opposition press how to go about their business and is not saying the opposition press should have focused on the social media frame. We fully understand the political economy of the media, but we just want the opposition press to know of something called active audience theory.
This theory argues that media audiences do not just receive information passively but are actively involved, often unconsciously, in making sense of the message within their personal and social contexts.
Congregants from my church over the past few weeks have been laughing at the way the opposition press has been framing the VP Mnangagwa story. Referring to the different readings by Stuart Hall, the congregants are saying; “preferred reading has failed, negotiated reading is fast becoming difficult, leaving only oppositional reading on the table.”
According to Hall, preferred reading is when audiences respond to the product the way media producers expect them to while negotiated reading is when a member of the audience partly agrees with part of the product for example a story.
Oppositional reading is when the audience are in complete disagreement with the product’s message for example being in total disagreement with a story.
This is the reality on the ground and if anyone doubts that opposition reading is dominating the opposition press, just a call to Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (ZAMPS) will confirm this and many other things.
Why do you think sales of certain newspapers have plummeted to shocking levels?
Why do you think advertisers are shunning the opposition press?
People are tired of “Mnangagwa this, Mnangagwa that.” President Mugabe’s main message was “Let us work together . . . Kana takatukana, let bygones be bygones. Unity and more unity is what we need. Avoid stances, actions, insults that divide the party.”
The President was speaking to everyone in Zanu-PF, not to VP Mnangagwa alone. Unfortunately, the opposition press yakasara so expecting them to grasp this reality is asking for too much. In the meantime, let the performances continue.
Bishop is out!
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