The VMCZ which made a representation to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Media in the past weeks calling for the abolition of all laws that regulate the media in favour of self-regulation said government must repeal draconian legislation such as the Official Secrets Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Criminal Law Act.
The story penned by Zhangazha said Youth minister, Saviour Kasukuwere wants to re-introduce the “National Youth Service Training Programme in Zimbabwe” which will result in the “immediate implementation of a massive training of youths from pre-school to tertiary institutions.” The re-introduction of the youth training programme is still waiting government approval through cabinet, the Independent reported.
The intended police moves comes barely months after Chimakure and Alpha Media Holdings editor in chief, Vincent Kahiya were freed in April on charges of naming security agents that were involved in the abduction of political activists in the deadly presidential run-off elections in 2008, the report was published in 2009.
“The VMCZ expresses grave concern at the request to question the Editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, Mr. Chimakure and Senior Political Reporter, Wongai Zhangazha this week by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). The intentions of the police, as reported in the Zimbabwe Independent on 12 August 2011, is to ask the two journalists to ‘assist with investigations’ by revealing the sources of a story on the National Youth Service published in the same paper on July 8 2011,” Loughty Dube, the Advocacy and Complaints officer of VMCZ said in a statement released Friday.
“The visit to the offices of Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) , who are the publishers of the Zimbabwe Independent, by detectives from the CID Law and Order Section, can only be viewed as an act of intimidation of the media by the ZRP. The premise of the visit, which was reportedly to seek to have the two journalists reveal their sources for the story in question is patently undemocratic and is against the spirit and letter of Section 20 of Zimbabwe’ s Constitution, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights as well as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all of which guarantee every Zimbabwean the right to receive and impart information.”
Alpha Media which owns the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard and the daily News Day is one of the independent newspaper publishers in Zimbabwe. In 2007 Bill Saidi, a former Standard editor was sent a bullet in an envelope by unknown people, the action was condemned locally and globally.
Dube said the police action to try and seek to know the sources of information from the journalists ‘undermines the basic tenets of information in a democratic society.’
“It is a cardinal rule that journalists do not reveal their sources if the latter choose not to want to be known publicly. UNESCO and international media freedom organisations such as Article 19, the Media Institute of Southern Africa, through model Freedom of Information Acts and in the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Plurastic Media (1991) have recognised access to information as vital to the construction of democratic societies,” Dube said.
“This includes the protection of journalists from being forced to reveal their sources together with the protection of ‘whistleblowers’ of information that is in the public interest”.
“The VMCZ therefore calls upon the inclusive government, in particular the Ministries of Justice and Legal Affairs, Home Affairs and Media Information and Publicity to urgently review the Official Secrets Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act together with the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and repeal sections in them that seek to criminalise the media profession, whistle blowing and the right freedom of expression as well as access to information.”