Alliance partners declined the invitation, saying they believe in self-regulation of the media and the proposed statutory council would have power to control journalists and media practitioners.
The ZMC had invited partners in the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) to take part in consultations on Tuesday, as required by provisions in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). But Alliance partners refused to participate and wrote to the ZMC, criticizing AIPPA as oppressive legislation that abuses the rights of media players in Zimbabwe.
MAZ cannot be part of this engagement that creates a media council according to terms of AIPPA. The law allows the council to jail journalists, ban and close down media operations, as has happened in the past, the MAZ letter said. The letter went further and called on the ZMC to campaign for the repeal of AIPPA in its entirety, according to resolutions that were laid out at a government media stakeholders conference held in May, 2009.
But in response the ZMC held a press conference on Wednesday and announced that they would move ahead with formation of the media council, without any consultations. Patience Zirima, coordinator for the Alliance, said this must have been the plan anyway, since it came the day after the so-called consultations were to have taken place.
We believe that as a profession the media should regulate itself just like any other industry, Zirima said. AIPPA has previously been used to target journalists and the media and this may continue in the future under this statutory council, she added.
The Alliance also called on the Commission to recognise the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), saying the group promotes a professional and free media environment through voluntary self-regulation of the media.
Alliance partners that signed the letter to the ZMC include the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Media Monitoring Project, National Editors Forum, Union of Journalists, Federation of African Media Women and African Community Publishing Development Trust.
The ZMC appears to be resisting the development of a truly independent media in the country. Even though several newspapers are now available after government licensed them, there are still no independent broadcasters in the country.Post published in: News