The government’s reintroduction of mobile films, popularly known as bioscopes, in rural areas ahead of the crucial 2023 elections has raised questions with political analysts describing the move as a ZANU-PF campaign strategy.
Bioscopes were popular in the 1970s to 1990s, with the Information Ministry moving around the country showing movies and local dramas.
“We are relaunching the bioscope concept today in a move aimed at bridging information gaps, particularly between rural and the urban communities,” said Deputy Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Kindness Paradza over the weekend in Makonde Mashonaland West.
“Most rural families have no access to television, radio and newspapers and as a government, we have found it prudent to reintroduce the concept to keep our communities informed and entertained.”
But political analysts believe this is just a campaign strategy by the ruling party.
“This is an electioneering campaign ahead of 2023, “said Effie Ncube.
“There is nothing that the ruling party does just for the advancement of the general socioeconomic interest of the people. Instead, everything is short-term for short-term electoral gains even if it means abusing state resources. Instead of bioscopes, the government should be economically empowering rural communities and connecting every household to affordable electricity and data so that communities find their own entertainment.”
Vusumuzi Chirwa described the timing of bioscopes as a political gimmick.
“These bioscopes are least regarding rural needs priorities, the rural folks want more boreholes than bioscopes, more bridges than bioscopes, more clinics and schools than bioscopes,” he told CITE.
“Chances are high that these bioscopes are meant to brainwash rather than entertain let alone educate the rural folk.”
He added: “Whether bioscopes are relevant or irrelevant the bottom line is that they are not a priority to the rural folk even if a needs assessment was to be done, none will request bioscopes in this technological day and age of live streaming and video on demand services largely enjoyed by urban folks. The government should not expand the urban-rural divide but close it as a matter of fact.”
Sipho Nyoni believes the timing is obviously in line with the upcoming elections and the objective is to use this programme to indoctrinate the gullible rural masses with ZANU-PF propaganda.
“Bioscopes will give ZANU-PF as much leeway as possible to disseminate their propaganda in the rural areas and also give them every reason to have a semblance or presence in the rural areas heading up to campaigns and ultimately elections,” said Nyoni.
“In rural areas where there might be a lack in terms of entertainment, these bioscopes will be welcomed by the entertainment hungry masses and as much as bioscopes are no longer relevant in modern day society, in rural settings it will be easy to mobilize and drive the ZANU-PF propaganda deeper without necessarily going from village to village.”
Mkhululi Tshuma, another political analyst said: “It’s clear that ZANU-PF is on an offensive to win the 2023 elections by all means, fair or foul. Judging by the sprouting of many ghost writers in various social media platforms, it is clear that its campaign strategy is anchored on a serious propaganda blitz on what the so-called second republic has achieved from the coup that they executed in 2017.”
He said ZANU-PF doesn’t do anything without elections or power retention in mind. “There are very high chances that such a programme (bioscopes) will be manipulated to try and enhance the party’s battered image,” said Tshuma.
He was however quick to say the bioscopes will not work.
“Neither will propaganda work,” he said.
“Such attempts will dismally fail. The major challenge is that ZANU-PF does not learn from history. The party is now dangerously obstinate. It listens to no one except itself and key state organs that it has continuously used to extend its stay in power at the expense of the electorate. Such mediaeval, stone age means of trying to retain power will face stiff resistance from social media which will lead to laughable and comic outcomes.”