Exposed: BBC bias over Zimbabwe

Marc Wadsworth

BBC Television News revealed its pro-Western bias against the new Zimbabwean government of national unity with a damaging report this week about the sanctions-hit country. In a slickly produced package it reported: "The BBC has received news of a surge in takeovers of farms owned by white families in Zimbabwe. It's the latest evidence of volatility despite the recent power-sharing deal."

Because of its partial coverage, the BBC, whose funding is decided by the British government, has been banned from Zimbabwe. Reporting from South Africa, the BBC's Andrew Harding said, dismissively: "So much for change in Zimbabwe, an armed group breaks into Ken Bartholomew's farm close to Harare."

Bartholomew, whom Harding says is being secretly filmed by his wife, complains on camera that 98 per cent of white farmers are "facing the same hassle and the police aren't helping".

Harding's commentary states: "Zimbabwe's new unity government was supposed to be healing wounds but (president) Robert Mugabe appears to be stirring up trouble and his opponents are unable to stop him."

The BBC Southern Africa correspondent contends that supporters of former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangarai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party are still be held in jail despite his appointment as the new prime minster.

Harding's commentary continues: "Now you could argue that these are just teething problems. That president Mugabe is weakened and now his hardline supporters are grabbing what they can while they still have some power. But there's another way of looking at it. For all the talk of change in Zimbabwe right now it seems to be very much business as usual."

Cut to the BBC studio in London where a presenter, interviews George Shire, whom she introduces as  a political analyst and member of Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwean African National Union Patriotic Front (Zanu PF) party who fought during the war of independence.

Presenter states: "Some rather disturbing images and allegations in that report from Andrew Harding."

She asks Shire: "Going on those images, do you think, possibly, we are going back to the bad old days when farmers were evicted, effectively, by mob rule?"

Shire: "I think the BBC, and other majority international media institutions, have miseducated themselves about Zimbabwe. The land occupation is the continuation of the liberation war which did not end in 1980. It continues into the land distribution programme (which Britain, the former colonial ruler, was supposed to financially underwrite under the terms of the Lancaster House Agreement of December 21 1979 which ushered in Black majority rule)."

He added: "That's what it is. In fact the war veterans (who are at the forefront of seizing land from white farmers) struggle in a poor rural, urban divided society. They are not an appendage of Zanu PF. It's the other way round. So, it continues to be a political issue for as long as people (the Black majority) think it hasn't been resolved sufficiently. If the land distribution programme is derailed we will see conflict re-emerging. And the three political parties in Zimbabwe cannot afford to be seen to renege on this indivisibility of the land question."

Presenter: "We should make clear that this redistribution question, as we have been referring to it, has been ruled illegal by the Southern African Development Community (SADC)."

Shire: "No. You see, it's not so much whether it has been ruled illegal. The distribution programme is a continuation of the liberation war."

Presenter interrupts: "If you choose to..."

Shire: "Just a minute. It's important to look at it that way. Then you will be able to understand why, in all SADC resolutions, whether it's in memorandums of understanding or whether it is in the (Zimbawean unity) deal itself, the land question is central and irreversible."

Presenter: "We've established that this is a contentious issue. How do you feel about some of the tactics that we are allegedly seeing rearing their ugly head again?"

Shire: "Again, the language used is misleading. These are not 'tactics'. As long as there's a feeling in the country that there's a possibility of the redistribution programme being reversed we will see conflict. This is not generated by anybody (Mugabe). It's the nature of a very divided society."

Presenter interrupts.

Shire: "On the one hand the rural poor are emerging from a peculiar colonial position where the land question is central."

Presenter: "So you think there are factions within Zanu PF that are simply determined to derail the new unity government?"

Shire: "No. Far from it. It's actually the other way round. And the reason I say so is the..."

Presenter interrupts. She asks: "And the evidence you are basing this on?"

Shire: I will tell you. If you look at the (pro-West) MDC it is a motley crew of a number of opinions and positions. It has support from people who would want to see a reversal of the pattern of land ownership. But, with Zanu PF that's not the case.

So, if you look at the land question the challenge is on the MDC rather than anyone else. If you look at the documents they have signed these talk about critical things: The land question. The (economic) sanctions being removed (by the West). And Britain being responsible for paying off the (white) farmers (in compensation for their land).

Presenter interrupts: "George, we have to leave it there. You have had your say."


2 Responses to "Exposed: BBC bias over Zimbabwe"

Sumantra's picture


Thu, 02/26/2009 - 04:03
Couldn't have been truer, BBC with its history of bias is again at it. Not only is BBC biased in its interpretation of things which affect west, it is also biased in not showing things which apparently doesn't have direct influence or value to west. Newsprints and timeslots have been alloted to Israel's war in Gaza, but not a single minute is spent in the World News version about the civil war in Sri Lanka, where at least 2.5 million ethnic minority of Tamils, is holed up in a 1.4 sq km of area, with no food, or water and medical supply, facing certain, but slow and painful death. Why? They are not humans? Or just because it has got no direct influence on the west coined war of terror? What about the mutiny in Bangladesh between the border security forces, and its millitary? Is that not important? These questions, are sadly left unanswered
chris's picture


Thu, 02/26/2009 - 07:33
<p><strong><u>Chris Gaynor</u></strong></p> I totally agree with you. That is why I call it the British Bias Corporation....