Journalists urged to report extensively on Zim constitutional issues

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Local media practitioners have been encouraged to start to report extensively about constitutional issues since there is glaring evidence that the general  citizenry is not privy to some fundamental provisions in the 2013 adopted constitution.

This was echoed at a ‘training on constitutional reporting for the media’  that was conducted in Harare recently by the Centre for Applied Legal Research(CARL) and Southern African Research and Documentation Centre(SARDC) in conjunction with Media Institute of Southern Africa(MISA).

According to MISA Zimbabwe legal officer Kuda Hove (pictured) , there is the inherent need for journalists to make sure that when they are reporting they take into considerations various provisions in the constitution that speak to each and every beat they cover.

“It is critical as journalists to ensure that you cover constitutional issues in your everyday reporting as they are attached to each and every  beat you cover ,”said Kuda Hove.

According to  CARL’s  legal research officer Jacqueline Chikakano ,the media should interrogate the state’s obligations  to put in place mechanisms to provide socio-economic rights.

“While in the constitution provides that a provision is not a right(Section 28) there is the need for the local media  to  find the extend of state obligations to put in place laws and other measures to facilitate fundamental rights like education,” she said.

Another CARL representative Dr  James Tsabora  implored the media to  hype the devolution concept  which is being touted as a  big move  to spur localised development  though he has reservations on some of the provisions around the  concept.

“Devolution is a crucial area that needs media indulgence but I personally don’t like the structure of provincial councils stipulated in Section 268 as it gives to much control to the central government thereby defeating the whole purpose of devolution, ”argued Dr Tsabora.

Most media practitioners revealed that they find it hard to report on constitutional issues because of the jargon but Dr Tsabora said his organization was ready to make available experts that would help the media understand constitutional issues.

It was also established that parliamentarians are key in pushing constitutional issues but seasoned journalist Nhau Mangirazi was quick to  point out that the whipping system used in parliament is a hurdle sometimes.

“Most of our interactions with these legislators show that often the MPs are aware of   their role in initiating fundamental laws but they backtrack because of the whipping system whereby the party decision becomes supreme,” revealed Mangirazi.

Plans are afoot to roll out the trainings to many journalists across the country, says SARDC  Kizito Sikuka.