Failure to implement media reforms worrisome

May 3, 2012 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

Zimbabwe today joins the rest of the world in marking World Press Freedom Day. We are doing so with a bleeding heart as a result of the failure by the inclusive government to fully implement media reforms as captured in the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
The GPA is categorical in Article XIX, which deals with freedom of expression and communication, that since the signing of the pact in September 1999, the unity government should have ensured the “immediate processing by the appropriate authorities of all applications for (newspaper, radio and television) re-registration and registration in terms of both the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act”.

While we have witnessed the registration of new newspapers like NewsDay, nothing significant has happened to free the airwaves. Two national radio licences have so far been awarded to organisations perceived to be aligned to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF. In reality, the granting of the licences has consolidated Mugabe and Zanu PF’s hold on the media. The government has not embraced the spirit or letter of the GPA to take steps to “ensure that the public media provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties for their legitimate activities”.

The government has also failed to ensure that “the public and private media shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or that unfairly undermines political parties and other organisations”. What we have witnessed since the formation of the unity government is the escalation of hate speech in the public media.

Also of major concern is that not a single television licence has been granted to private players. In fact, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe has not even bothered to call for television licence applications.

Exiled journalists have not been guaranteed freedom to return home to practise their profession. Letters were written to and ignored by the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity seeking guarantees for the unimpeded return of the journalists in anticipation that the GPA would usher in an open media environment. As a result, Zimbabweans “running or working for external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe” are not able to return home as envisaged by the GPA.

We also bemoan the reluctance or failure by the inclusive government to abrogate archaic and draconian laws that restrict media freedom and plurality, among them, Aippa; the Public Order and Security Act; BSA; Officials Secrets Act; Prisons Act; Censorship and Control of Entertainment Act; Courts and Adjudicating Authorities (Public Restrictions) Act; the Privileges, Immunities and Powers of Parliament Act; and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The common law of criminal defamation and publication of “falsehoods” have had an equally chilling effect on media freedom and should be abrogated.

Our government should today be reminded that media freedom is not only a fundamental right, but a basic necessity for democracy to thrive and blossom. We demand real media reforms now!

Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .

War vets threaten Biti New constitution will not allow Zim exiles to vote

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Photos

Zimbabwean Hero?

DSC00271

DSC00244

DSC00316

More Photos

Calendar

May 2012
M T W T F S S
« Apr   Jun »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

You are vistor number

Archives


%d bloggers like this: