Zim implored to comply with regional and continental instruments in the ongoing media reforms

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Calls have been made for the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led  administration to comply with regional and continental instruments   in the ongoing media law reform processes.

This was heard at a breakfast meeting organised by MISA-Zimbabwe  to commemorate World Press Freedom Day on Friday which it celebrated under the theme ‘Regional and Continental Instruments Key to Democratic Media Reforms’.

The organisation cited regional and continental instruments that include African Charter on Human and People’s Rights , Windhoek  Declaration, Declaration  on the Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa  and said these should be applied in the current constitution.

“The regional and continental instruments include among others African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Windhoek Declaration,Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression and Access to Information  in Africa,African Charter on Broadcasting,African Platform on Access to Information.

“These instruments should be read and applied in line with Zimbabwe’s Bill of Rights and fundamentally with sections 57,61 and 62 of the constitution and other relevant sections that have a bearing on the exercise and enjoyment of free speech, right to privacy and access to information,”says MISA-Zimbabwe.

In a  statement, the media  reforms  advocacy organisation’s chairman Golden Maunganidze  reiterated the need  for the media reform process not to be hurried but  be holistic .

“MISA Zimbabwe cautiously welcomes steps taken by the government so far   through drafting of  the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill, Freedom of Information Bill and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill and Data Protection Bill. However, the envisaged reforms should not be piecemeal, hurried   and nebulous, but extensive  and underpinned by democratic values and best practices,” read the statement which was read of his behalf by his vice chairperson Rutendo Mawere.

According to MISA-Zimbabwe director  Tabani Moyo   said there was the need for the government to waiver  the 20% percent foreign stake in broadcasting ownership  in sync with the  ‘open for business mantra’.

“I think there is the need for government  to re-look at opening up investments in the broadcasting industry by  moving from the entrenched position that foreign investment in the sector should not be more than 20% as this is contrast to the open for business  mantra,” challenged  the MISA-Zimbabwe boss.

He also   said outlawing donations in the broadcast industry  stifle operations of community radio stations which are key in ensuring that the country observes the three-tier broadcasting system   in accordance with regional and international statutes.

In a speech read on behalf of the permanent secretary in the ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza by the acting director in the department of constitution and parliamentary affairs, Charles Manhire, government acknowledged the need for alignment of media laws .

“The Constitutional Legislative Alignment process is required to facilitate the full implementation of the new constitution and this therefore means that all laws were founded in the former constitution and not in tandem with the 2013 constitution are by definition unconstitutional.

“If these laws are left unattended not only does it open a flood-gate of constitutional cases but it also adversely affects the operations of government and state to the detriment of the people,”.

The World Press Freedom is celebrated every year on 3rd May and this year it is running under the theme ‘Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation’.