Information from data recorded during the outreach program of the constitution making process reveals that in most districts of the country, participants advocated for the freedom and independence of the media. There was also a demand for media practitioners and institutions to be protected against any form of interference, censorship or control. But in many rural areas, especially ZANU PF strongholds, villagers were forced to toe the party line and said that they resisted changes to the current set up and wanted no independent broadcasters.
Most districts in Mashonaland West province were against the privatization of the broadcasting sector. Villagers in Zvimba and Hurungwe were unanimous that Zimbabwe should not free the airwaves and said no to foreign based stations like SW Radio Africa and Studio 7.
But everywhere else people want a law that allows Zimbabweans with the resources to be allowed to operate radio and television stations whose content should be objective and stories balanced, a source who has seen the data said.
In provinces where the MDC has a majority of parliamentary seats in comparison to ZANU PF, there was agreement around proposals to have self regulation within the media industry. There were also strong views that freedom and plurality bring about competition and that ensures quality in the end product.
The quality of some of the contributions was quite amazing for a country that is limited in terms of information. Most participants also underlined serious concerns about professional standards and ethics by the state media. They said the state media under the clutches of ZANU PF intentionally spreads prejudice, intolerance and hatred, which has largely contributed to the polarization of the country,
An analyst told us that the new government that will emerge after the next poll should champion freedom of speech and help foster an environment conducive to a free media.Post published in: News