Media Organisations, ZMC, on Collision Course Mnangagwa backs ZMC
emmerson_mnangagwaHARARE- The battle for turf control between the government appointed Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, over the formation of a media council to regulate the activities of journalists intensified on Wednesday as alliance members boycotted the ZMC launch press conference.

The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe is made of media organisations such as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, ZUJ, MISA, Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, Zinef, and the Federation of African Media Women of Zimbabwe, FAMWZ who say allowing the ZMC to constitute a Zimbabwe Media Council would perpetuate media oppression. They are advocating for the continued existence of the Voluntary Media Complaints of Zimbabwe, VMCZ which they set up in 2007.

The ZMC commissioners are nominees from the three political parties in the Government of National Unity and are insisting that for now, a statutory complaints council is the way forward while the alliance has said it will boycott attempts to force a statutory council on media practitioners.

Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, AIPPA, stakeholder organisations are supposed to second officials to the statutory council. Following the boycott by the stake holders, ZMC chairperson, Godfrey Majonga told the press conference that they would engage stake holder organisations to come up with nominees to the council. If for any reason, any association fails or refuses to submit nominations, the commission is lining up a number of consultative meetings with the concerned associations for the purpose of nominating representatives to the media council. We hope to have concluded these meetings by mid June.

Majonga told the press conference that they hoped stakeholders would embrace the process so that …we have, at the end of the day, a media council reflective of the diverse representation of stakeholders as per the objectives of the legislature, for the development of a free press. Majonga said it was possible to achieve press freedom under the existing draconian media laws.

If we work together, we could make more progress in that regard, and in bringing about legislative, structural and other desired reforms. As the press conference was being held, it emerged that Defence Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa had lodged a formal complaint with the Zimbabwe Media Commission over a story published in The Standard in which services chiefs were said to have held a teleconference with President Robert Mugabe, urging him to find a sellable Zanu PF candidate ahead of the next elections.

Mnangagwa wants a prompt and unconditional apology and retraction as soon as possible. He said the retraction should be given similar prominence as the original story, failure of which he would use draconian defamation laws against the publication.

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