BBC and CNN free to report from Zimbabwe

bbc_newsThe British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Cable News Network (CNN) are now free to resume operations in Zimbabwe following meetings they held with the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu, his Permanent Secretary , George Charamba, and Principal Director, Sylvester Maunganidze.

The first meeting was held on 19 July 2009 with a BBC delegation which comprised its World News editor Jon Williams, Africa Bureaux editor Sarah Halfpenny, and Gringo Wotshela. Subsequent meetings were held with CNN Johannesburg bureau chief Kim Norgaard.

The BBC last conducted its operations in Zimbabwe in 2001 five weeks after the authorities expelled the organisations Harare correspondent Joseph Winter while CNN ceased its operations after the authorities allegedly questioned the organisations coverage of the countrys land reform programme.

In a letter to the BBC after the meetings, Shamu said the government never banned the organisation from reporting in Zimbabwe. We agreed that whatever communication problems which the BBC and the officials of the Zimbabwemay have had in the past, the Zimbabwe government never banned the BBC from carrying out lawful activities inside Zimbabwe.

For the purposes of the record, I restate the main points of our meeting. We acknowledged the need to put behind us the mutually ruinous relationship of the past, reads part of the letter.

According to the letter, the BBC and the government agreed that the latter would employ locals at its proposed Harare Bureau. The organisation was, however, still free to send its crews to Zimbabwe whenever the need arose. It was also agreed that BBC and CNN would respect local legislation and uphold professional standards.

The BBC and CNN were still to indicate as to when they would start broadcasting from Zimbabwe.

MISA-Zimbabwe position

MISA-Zimbabwe welcomes this development as progressive since the free flow of information results in an informed society that has capacity to influence how it is governed.

The government should in similar vein revisit the issue of banned publications such as The Daily News, Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and Weekly Times by speedily processing their licenses as agreed to in terms of the inclusive governments Global Political Agreement (GPA). The government can further demonstrate its commitment to freeing the media environment by repealing repressive legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) to allow the entry of new players in both the print and broadcasting sector.

Under Article 19 of the GPA signed by Zanu PF and the two MDC formations paving way for the formation of the inclusive government, the parties agreed that the government would ensure the immediate processing by the appropriate authorities of all applications for re-registration and registration in terms of the BSA and AIPPA.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *