LATCHING onto what is becoming an increasingly predictable path where the government-owned Herald newspaper carries an obvious front page ‘expose’ of beleaguered former vice president Joice Mujuru’s alleged rap sheet of ‘indiscretions’, social media has been parodying the publication under the hashtag MockTheHerald.
Twitter has been carrying rather over the top additions to the vice president’s alleged ‘crimes’ with some hilarious contributions that have mocked The Herald’s perceived hatchet job articles on the sacked VP.
And the fake headlines show the charade that public media has become over the past few weeks.
Some of the fake headlines read as follows: “Grace Mugabe pregnant: Mai Mujuru fingered!”, “Mujuru’s grand kid steals another kid’s sandwich at creche: Grandmother fingered in cover-up”, “Another scandal emerges: Mujuru responsible for flooding in Harare 2 weeks ago. Her intention was to drown the president”.
The ever creative Zimbabwean ‘Twitter army’ at home and abroad continued with suggestions such as, “VP Mujuru implicated in plot to delay the rains: Political analysts say she wanted to discredit the land reform” and “Evidence Mujuru stole the helicopter she shot down during the war, helicopter found at the US embassy!”
The parody has made humorous what is an otherwise worrying trend of generic “Mujuru implicated” headlines that have become a daily staple for the nation’s newspaper readers.
But the parody even extends beyond borders and the realm of politics with some of the spoof headlines suggesting the embattled leader is responsible for the missing Malaysian MH70 plane that disappeared at the beginning of this year; that she is behind the death of Michael Sata, the late Zambian president so she could take over both Northern and Southern Rhodesia (Zambia and Zimbabwe).
It was also suggested that Mujuru picked the line-up to the Zimbabwe cricket team which recently suffered a humiliating whitewash at the hands of lowly-ranked Bangladesh for the first time in cricketing history.
Others claimed the VP had been picked up by police to answer charges of being behind the collapse of TB Joshua’s apartment building in Nigeria.
And the education sector mess was not spared either with headlines such as“Joice Mujuru fingered in the Zimsec exams leakage scandal; demanded ten percent of the results”. Neither has history been spared with someone coming up with “Mujuru led the pioneer column!”
But analysts say the trend, while funny, is evidence of a darker problem.
“The fact that people are making fun of a national newspaper is a sign of how they no longer take seriously the integrity of the media.
“It is sad that the media is seen in such light terms and the credibility of the papers has suffered from what is obviously seen as red-herring propaganda that seeks to apportion blame while the economic crisis, the elephant in the room, is being ignored,” said an analyst.
Veteran journalist Geoff Nyarota foresaw the fall in media respect two weeks ago when the Mujuru headline charade began
“It is worrying, and must be worrying, when the newspaper buyers can predict that the front page story will carry two characters without question – Grace (Mugabe) and Mai Mujuru, the latter being attacked,” Nyarota said at a recent public meeting.
While it has its fans, the MockTheHerald trend has its fair share of people who think it is an annoying trend.
“This MockTheHerald ish is really annoying me. Don’t we have anything better to do or tell?” complained Twitter enthusiast Sharon Tawuya.
But journalist Nqaba Matshazi and the majority of Twitter lovers in Zimbabwe seem to think differently.
“This MockTheHerald trend is genuinely funny,” he quipped.NEWZIMBABWE