Bad for democracy

It is totally unacceptable that it has taken the inclusive government more than two years to bring about meaningful changes to the media landscape in our country.

Despite having agreed to open up the air waves to independent players and turn our national radio and television stations into public institutions rather than Zanu (PF) mouthpieces nothing has been done in that sphere.

The Global Political Agreement provides for the establishment of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, which would be responsible for granting operating licences to independent players. Absolutely nothing has happened in this regard.

There are many independent, Zimbabwean broadcasters operating from outside the country who would be only too willing to return. The governments failure to implement this, and so many other terms of the agreement, forces them to continue operating from abroad.

With regard to the print media, we acknowledge some slight progress with the licensing of independent daily and weekly newspapers, but this does not go nearly far enough.

A number of laws that restrict press freedom are our statute books. These include the notorious AIPPA and POSA as well as criminal defamation and the defence act. Several other acts contain provisions that restrict press freedom in one way or another.

Correspondents for The Zimbabwean continue to be harassed from time to time, as do the staff of our distributors. Even our vendors in rural areas like Murewa are unable to deal openly without be threatened by CIO and Zanu (PF) thugs.

Last year, the police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, banned policemen and women from reading The Zimbabwean and as far as we know that order has not yet been rescinded.

Relatives of prisoners have also been ordered not to bring copies of this newspaper when visiting the countrys jails.

Media freedom is fundamental to any true democracy. POSA and AIPPA are bad for democracy. It is therefore imperative that the government of national unity scrap these restrictive laws. Amendment is unacceptable. The simple fact is that they are bad laws and they have no place in a modern, democratic Zimbabwe.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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