The link between Zimbabwe’s foreign policy and selected public media (The Herald And The Sunday Mail) 1980–2014
Rusero, Alexander M.
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The rationale for this study lies in the continued existence of a knowledge gap in contemporary international relations literature pertaining to the link between foreign policy and the media particularly the link between Zimbabwe’s foreign policy and selected public media (The Herald and The Sunday Mail) 1980 – 2014. Zimbabwe’s foreign policy occupies the attic on the menu of political, economic and social challenges bedevilling Zimbabwe. The media has both a symbiotic and an adversarial relationship with the political world that it covers. It uses and is used by politicians and their spin – doctors. Convinced that there has been a discontinuing link between Zimbabwe’s foreign policy and the public media, the study sought to critically assess the causes triggering such a dichotomy given the strategic importance of state – controlled media in the articulation of foreign policy of any given country. Adopting a qualitative research paradigm, the research used a three – tier methodological enquiry that made use of content analysis on newspaper articles from The Herald and The Sunday Mail as well as foreign policy documents; in – depth interviews to experts as well as a case study approach upon the New African Magazine – a Pan – African magazine regularly engaged by several African governments in reaching wider audiences in the articulation of their foreign policies. The New African was engaged by the Zimbabwean government to produce two special supplements between June and December 2007. Using all the above mentioned methodological techniques, it was unveiled that whilst the media is undoubtedly an indispensible tool in foreign policy matrix, Zimbabwean journalists were not yet at a level of appreciating national interests. Coincidentally the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was found to be equally clueless on how best it could involve and make a deliberate effort for the public media to become part of Zimbabwe’s foreign policy instrument. In addition the discord or rather disengagement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services was also noted to have exacerbated the situation. It was overally recommended that the Government of Zimbabwe should craft a Strategic Communication Plan/Policy that is holistic and integrates several state departments such as Defence and Security, Foreign Affairs, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Zimpapers, ZBC, Journalism training institutions, Universities that offer International Relations and Political Science amongst several critical foreign policy – related institutions.