Four me­dia Bills on the cards

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Zva­maida Mur­wira Se­nior Re­porter

GOV­ERN­MENT has started craft­ing four Bills re­lated to the me­dia in­dus­try aimed at en­sur­ing that the coun­try has a pro­fes­sional, vi­able le­gal frame­work that is consistent with the Con­sti­tu­tion, a Cab­i­net Minister has said.

In­for­ma­tion, Pub­lic­ity and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Minister Mon­ica Mutsvangwa said it was im­por­tant that all stake­hold­ers give their views on the en­vis­aged le­gal in­stru­ments in a frank and open way to en­sure that the coun­try came up with the best me­dia le­gal frame­work.

Minister Mutsvangwa said this in Harare yesterday while ad­dress­ing stake­hold­ers in the me­dia in­dus­try dur­ing a me­dia re­form stake­hold­ers con­sul­ta­tion work­shop. The work­shop was at­tended by Par­lia­ment’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on the me­dia, aca­demics, me­dia ad­vo­cacy groups, civic so­ci­ety and de­vel­op­ment partners.

The four Bills are Zim­babwe Me­dia Com­mis­sion Bill, Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Bill, Data/In­for­ma­tion Pro­tec­tion Bill and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Amend­ment Bill.

“If the me­dia has to play that cru­cial role, it needs an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment. That en­abling en­vi­ron­ment is made pos­si­ble by a good le­gal frame­work and a sec­tor that pur­sues best prac­tices,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“It is thus my wish that at the end of this work­shop, we should be able to pro­ceed to the next stage of cre­at­ing that good le­gal en­vi­ron­ment and craft­ing a me­dia pol­icy that will pro­mote noth­ing but the best in the me­dia sec­tor.”

Minister Mutsvangwa im­plored stake­hold­ers to care­fully study cur­rent me­dia laws and iden­tify where they were at vari­ance with the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“The laws that have shaped and have been reg­u­lat­ing the in­dus­try in­clude Zim­babwe Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion Com­mer­cial Act of 2001 that un­bun­dled the na­tional broad­caster, the in­fa­mous Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion and Pro­tec­tion of Pri­vacy Act that is pre­dom­i­nantly aimed at the print me­dia and the Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Act which reg­u­lates the elec­tronic me­dia. If there is any­thing in these laws that you think is not pro­gres­sive, this is the time to say it out so we make amends,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said Gov­ern­ment would also be guided by the com­mis­sioned In­for­ma­tion and Me­dia Panel of In­quiry that sought to re­view the state of the me­dia.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa, said Minister Mnan­gagwa, was do­ing away with all the back­ward in­cli­na­tions of the old or­der through reach­ing out to all Zim­bab­weans as he seeks to lead through in­clu­sive­ness.

The sec­re­tary for In­for­ma­tion, Pub­lic­ity and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Mr Nick Mang­wana said the me­dia was not an ex­cep­tion in Gov­ern­ment’s thrust to at­tain Vi­sion 2030.

“The re­formist agenda be­ing pur­sued by Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa is un­der­pinned by en­sur­ing the en­joy­ment of civil rights, free­dom of ex­pres­sion and me­dia rights, free­dom of con­science and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion.

“There is also an obli­ga­tion for the me­dia to re­spect other equally im­por­tant rights which are key to achieve democ­racy. Some of our laws have been over­taken by tech­nol­ogy ren­der­ing them ob­so­lete and ir­rel­e­vant,” said Mr Mang­wana.

He said the work­shop should come up with solutions on how to reg­u­late so­cial me­dia which has seen ev­ery­one be­com­ing a cit­i­zen jour­nal­ist.

“How do we pro­tect our lo­cal me­dia en­trepreneurs from the va­garies of big me­dia such as CNN, BBC?” said Mr Man­gag­wana.

“At the end of the day it is our de­sire to en­sure that the me­dia in­dus­try iden­ti­fies with the fi­nal prod­uct,” said Mr Mang­wana.

Ad­dress­ing the same gath­er­ing, Chief Sec­re­tary in the Of­fice of the Pres­i­dent and Cab­i­net Dr Misheck Sibanda said since the adop­tion of the cur­rent Con­sti­tu­tion, Zim­babwe pri­ori­tised the align­ment of all na­tional laws and poli­cies to the supreme law of the land.

He said Gov­ern­ment set up an In­ter-Min­is­te­rial Task­force on the align­ment of leg­is­la­tion the Con­sti­tu­tion un­der the co­or­di­na­tion of the Min­istry of Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs.

“Many pieces of leg­is­la­tion are still pend­ing align­ment. The out­stand­ing leg­isla­tive Acts in­clude the AIPPA and the Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices Act which are the sub­ject of this con­sul­ta­tive work­shop,” said Dr Sibanda in a speech read on his be­half by his deputy Dr Ray Nd­hukula.

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