We the civil society organisations gathered at the Holiday Inn in Harare on the 28th of February 2012 to discuss the state of broadcasting in Zimbabwe.
Guided by the principles on freedom of expression and access to information as outlined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights; the Windhoek Declaration and the African Charter on Broadcasting; we re-affirmed our demands that:
On broadcasting regulations:
i. The Zimbabwe government must repeal the Broadcasting Services Act and other repressive media laws such as Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act; Interception of Communications Act (ICA), Official Secrets Act (OSA) and the Entertainment and Censorship Act, among others.
These laws must be replaced with democratic legislation that conforms to regional and international instruments on freedom of expression and the media.
ii. Government must establish a constitutional independent broadcasting authority in order to shield broadcasting regulation against political interference and manipulation
iii. Government must converge the regulation of broadcasting, telecommunications and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as opposed to the current fragmented regulatory framework that has created unnecessary bureaucratic layers encumbering the proliferation of private broadcasters .
iv. The authorities should be open about the potential number of Radio and TV stations the country can host to avoid the manipulation of the broadcasting frequency spectrum in the licensing of aspiring broadcasters.
v. On public broadcasting
i. There be an immediate transformation of ZBC from a state broadcaster into a true public broadcasting service that reflects the diversity of Zimbabwean thought, ethnicity, race, creed, religion, among others.
ii. A new ZBC Act must be passed to guarantee editorial independence of the public broadcaster.
iii. There be a transparent parliamentary process in the appointment of the ZBC board, which should represent a broad section of the Zimbabwean population, in order to avoid partisan deployments aimed at safeguarding narrow political interests.
iv. The new ZBC board should be tasked to establish an independent broadcasting complaints council that should come up with a code of conduct for all broadcasters.
v. A single radio and TV licence per household should be a sufficient requirement as opposed to the current scenario where vehicle radios are considered as extra gadgets licensed separately.
vi. Households in regions where there is no ZBC signal be exempt from paying licence fees
vii. Licence fees should be fair and economically justifiable
viii. ZBC should make its editorial charter public so that it is held accountable by the public it serves.
On the three tier broadcasting system
ix. Government should expeditiously facilitate the establishment of a three tier broadcasting model through the licensing of community radios in addition to the public and private stations that have been licensed.
x. There be democratic licensing and application requirements that do not seek to impose restrictions on the establishment of private radios but facilitate their proliferation.
Organisations in attendance:
2) Crisis Coalition
3) National Constitutional Assembly
4) Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Association (ZACRAS)
5) Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
6) Media Alliance of Zimbabwe
7) Bulawayo Agenda
8) Women’s Coalition
9) Combined Harare Residence Association (CHRA)
10) Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
11) Human Rights NGO Forum
12) National Association of NGOs (NANGO)
13) Christian Alliance
14) Youth Forum
2. Media Violations Statistics January/February 2012
Victim/Concerned party Violation /event/issue Date Status of the matter
Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) personnel Molly Chimanda, Fadzai December and Gilbert Mabusa Facing charges of violating Section25 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) which criminalises the organisation of a gathering without notifying the police.
The other charge falls under Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act which deals with undermining the authority of or insulting the president as well as section 37 of the same Act which outlaws distribution of materials likely to breach peace. 24 January 2012 Gwanda Magistrate Sheila Nazombe acquitted the three on charges of breaching Section 25 of POSA and Section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
The Sunday Times, Mail and Guardian, Business Day and The Zimbabwean The Zimbabwe Media Commission enlists the services of the police in a bid to stop foreign newspapers without local offices from circulating in Zimbabwe. 3 February 2012 ZMC chairperson Godfrey Majonga said the affected newspapers should register in Zimbabwe as soon as possible in terms of the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (AIPPA).Post published in: News