Act of desperation

EDITOR - Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of front


The recent seizure and tearing into pieces of the Zimbabwean copies in South Africa by a bearded man identified as a Zanu (PF) functionary is in bad taste, ill conceived and an act of desperation by a clique of certified failures. The guilty are always afraid of public scrutiny. The Zimbabwean is not a State-controlled media, which reduces the people to creatures that are at the mercy of propaganda, whose sole purpose is to elevate the virtues of Zanu (PF) and its leadership. It is a voice of the down trodden and marginalized.

I strongly believe freedom of the press means freedom to disseminate information and ideas through any medium without government restriction. A free Press is expected to provide a factual account of what is happening in the society and to present, analyse and clarify the goals and values of the society. It should also provide a forum for an exchange of comments on and criticism of nation’s affairs and thus serve as a watchdog of peoples’ rights.

Press freedom goes hand in hand with genuine democracy and is based not only on the rights of individual citizens to have information necessary in order to take the decisions which enable them to participate in a democratic society, but also to have access to the information necessary to make informed decisions, free from state intervention which affect the core elements of private life.

Free representative government is predicated on the assumption that the people having the facts will make the rights decisions why the go to the polls. If the Press abdicates its responsibility the system will fail. Freedom of speech and the press are virtually synonymous and shall have only ourselves to blame if the public figures whose decisions dominate our lives are so protected from public scrutiny that they can be held accountable only for those actions which they themselves and their subordinates choose to reveal.

The freedom of the Press is not jeopardized when politicians rant and rave about it. That freedom is endangered when editors and journalists begin having intimate dealings with the State and become an extension of the State and all its agencies.

The Press as a mirror of the society must reflect the face of our society, the beauty spots and the warts.

Tamsanqa Mlilo, African Judicial Network

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