We Have Failed The Media – Biti

After two years since the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU), media laws that have been used in the past to stifle the media environment are still intact.

MDC Secretary General Tendai Biti admitted on Thursday in a brief to journalists that his party had failed to create a self regulating media board as it had set out to do all along.

“We have failed the media so far as a party to create a self regulating council for journalists,” said Biti in a frank discussion after repeated questions on what his party is doing to ensure that the country’s airwaves are opened to allow for the plurality of media voices in the electronic media sphere.

Biti said his party had five key issues on the media question that his party wants addressed in the current round of talks.

The party wants the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) reviewed to allow for the liberalising of the requirements or repealing of these requirements needed for journalists to be able to work in Zimbabwe. The party also says it is pushing for a self regulating body as opposed to the proposed Media Council.

In addition the party also wants the liberalisation of the requirements of registration for media organisations both electronic and print. Current operating licenses are renewable annually.

“The current AIPPA is an inappropriately named law. The law does the difference of what it says, it is more a tool to hide information than to provide it,” said Biti adding that his party is pushing other coalition partners to democratise existing bodies such as the media commission of Zimbabwe.

“We are democratising the Mass Media Trust, I am pleased to advise that the principles have already agreed to nominees of the board on a 3:3:1 formula. We have agreed on a 5:5:2 formulas for ZBC and we have already submitted our nominations for the boards,” said Biti without mentioning the names of his party’s nominations.

The GPA however does not say that members of the boards of these organisations should be political appointees or professionals.