Harare, July 18, 2014 – The Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA-Zimbabwe) has bemoaned the government’s reluctance to realign
media laws to address the ongoing legislative confusion in the
In a statement MISA Zimbabwe said it was worrying that a year had
passed since the adoption of a new governance charter and yet the
government had not shown urgency in aligning the country’s legislative
framework with the supreme charter save for official rhetoric laden
with expressions of intent and promises of delivery.
“Resultantly, laws that were crafted under the old constitutional
dispensation continue to be implemented corroding the democratic
principles and human rights safeguards contained in the new
constitution. These include explicit guarantees for media freedom,
promotion and protection of freedom of expression as well as access to
information,” MISA Zimbabwe said in a statement released this week.
Zimbabwe adopted a new Constitution in May last year with, which
expanded some civil and political rights such as freedom of the press,
access to information, and freedom to demonstrate and petition and
contains some socio-economic rights.
While MISA-Zimbabwe said it noted with cautious optimism the work
being done by the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI), the
recent Constitutional Court ruling on criminal defamation as well as
repeated pronouncements by Media, Information and Broadcasting
Services Minister Jonathan Moyo, underlining the need for greater
media freedom, the old legislative framework remained in place posing
threats to the enjoyment of the very same rights the new constitution
seeks to promote and protect.
“This legislative disjuncture has been underscored by the arrests and
harassment of at least four journalists this year alone under the
country’s harsh media laws. These include the arrest of Daily News
Editor Stanley Gama and reporter Fungai Kwaramba under criminal
defamation laws, the conviction of provincial community newspaper
publisher James Muonwa under the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy in April, the raiding of community radio initiatives, Radio
Dialogue and Radio Kwelaz in April and June respectively, under
suspicions they were in violation of the Broadcasting Services Act.
In addition, law enforcement agents have used old laws to bar marches
and gatherings by media practitioners, civil society organisations and
members of the public. Several citizens have also fallen foul of
existing laws while exercising their right to freedom of expression
through online platforms. The old media regulatory framework continues
to be used to license aspiring media owners, including private
Meanwhile, MISA Zimbabwe will next week hold elections to choose a new
national governing body following the expiry of the tenure of the
current Njabulo Ncube chaired board.