Media groups want unity government to guarantee press freedom

mdc_rally-3.jpgTSVANGIRAI rally after inauguration, media expect unity government to uphold press freedom.
HARARE - Press freedom groups in Zimbabwe are calling for guarantees from the new inclusive government that the country's media would self-regulate and that the new administration will not be a media control f

Zimbabwean journalists launched a voluntary media council in June 2007,
hoping to show the government that the media could oversee itself and
did not need state supervision.

President Robert Mugabe’s government introduced tough media laws seven
years ago, forming the Media and Information Commission (MIC), imposing
state permits on local reporters and barring foreign journalists from
working permanently in the country.

The Zimbabwe chapter of press freedom group Media Institute of Southern
Africa (MISA) said this week the new government had to put in place a
mechanism that guaranteed media freedom.

MISA Zimbabwe chairman Loughty Dube urged the recently constituted
Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) to revisit the
issue of prohibitive registration and accreditation fees imposed
against media houses and journalists wishing to operate in Zimbabwe as
gazetted by the government last December.

JOMIC is a supervisory body that will oversee the compliance of the
inclusive government to the September 15 global political agreement

Article 19 of the GPA provides for the lifting of restrictions on media
freedom and also prescribes that the media, among other
responsibilities, provide balanced and fair coverage to all parties and
refrain from using language that may incite hostility, political
intolerance and ethnic hatred.

Foreign media organisations wishing to establish a representative
office in Zimbabwe have been asked to pay an application fee of US$10
000 and a further US$20 000 and US$2 000 as permission to operate and
complementary permit administration fees respectively.

Local journalists working for foreign media organisations will pay US$1
000 and US$3 000 as individual application and accreditation fees.

MISA Zimbabwe called for the scrapping of statutory regulation of the
media, saying the continued existence of the MIC or its envisaged
successor bodies, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and Media
Council, was in contravention of international press freedom

MISA said the closure of newspapers such as the Daily News, Daily News
on Sunday, The Tribune and the Weekly Times by the MIC was a good
lesson on the dangers of statutory regulation.

Matthew Takaona, president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, said
the media was supposed to play a watchdog role on government and could
not perform this function effectively if it relied on government
benevolence for continued existence.

Takaona asked JOMIC this week to hold more extensive media
consultations after JOMIC had held a meeting with editors from the
Herald, Zimbabwe Independent, Standard, Financial Gazette and ZBC.

Dube said the inclusive government should liberalise the airwaves and allow the entry of more players into the media industry.

Article 19 urges independent radio stations that were beaming from exile to return and set up shop in Zimbabwe.

"There should first be clear parameters and timeframes for the issuing
of the licenses as opposed to just expecting the radio stations to
cease operations without putting into place clear legal frameworks for
that eventuality," Dube said.

The agreement however is silent on the punitive import duty regime –
viewed by media rights bodies as censorship – that was imposed on
newspapers such as The Zimbabwean.

A media monitoring sub-committee of JOMIC has since been established
and comprises Oppah Muchinguri (Zanu-PF), Thabita Khumalo (MDC-T) and
Frank Chamunorwa (MDC-M).

US$5 billion needed to kick start economy: UNDP

HARARE – Zimbabwe urgently requires US$5 billion in foreign aid to
breathe new life into the comatose economy, according to a report by
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The UNDP report was released as key Western government governments
categorically stated that they want to see genuine commitment to reform
before they provide financial support to Harare.

The report, compiled as MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai took oath of
office as Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister, says US$1.6 billion of the
financial aid would be needed immediately to plug gaps in funding for
state projects.

The report also highlight the urgent need to write-off Zimbabwe’s
staggering US$4,7 billion external debt and says the economy collapsed
by 50 percent in the last 10 years, and need a robust international aid

The UNDP report says: "Without substantial foreign assistance,
sustainable economic recovery will be impossible. The manner in which
Zimbabwe tackles structural problems at the outset could determine
whether it becomes aid-dependent or able, in the long term, to sustain
its development," added the report.

Zimbabwean teachers arrested at SA School

Johannesburg – Twelve Zimbabwean teachers were this week arrested at
Maseala Progressive School a private school in Polokwane, Limpopo , for
working without permits.

Teachers are amongst the largest contingent of professionals from
Zimbabwe working in South Africa . Their arrest follows an
intensification of raids by South African police targeting Zimbabweans
working and living South Africa since the formation of the unity

Provincial home affairs spokesman, Sam Moremi, said the arrests follow
routine inspections done at various institutions in the industrial area
adding that they had for a long time suspected of irregular activities
taking place at the school.

For instance, we would have a number of teachers working at the school coming to apply for work permits at our offices.

We later realised they were no longer coming while we knew their permits had expired, explained Moremi.

The school's owner, Molatelo Gladys Mohlahlana, was also arrested charged for employing illegal foreigners.

Post published in: Politics

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