Media reform still necessary – MISA Zimbabwe

The Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chairman Njabulo Ncube has said that despite encouraging actions from the government there is still need for media reform in the country.

Ncube said MISA was heartened by the actions of the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Jonathan Moyo following his efforts to reengage with the local media.

“He has seized the initiative. We view that as a positive and encouraging sign of better things to come. There is a feeling that Zanu (PF) wants to have a good relationship with the media,” he said.

Ncube decried the history of hostilities between Zanu (PF) and the media. “We are coming from a decade when Zanu (PF) viewed the independent media as enemies. They now want to be seen as friends of the media,” he said.

The MISA chairman however cautioned against any euphoria over the minster’s actions.

“We are concerned that repressive media laws are still in existence. The new constitution guarantees freedom for the media but there are still laws that criminalise journalism,” he said.

Ncube said he remained hopeful that legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act would either be repealed or amended.

The lifespan of Government of National Unity was punctuated by calls for media reform.

The former Deputy Information minister Murisi Zwizai, during World Press Freedom Day commemorations in May this year described AIPPA as the media’s number one enemy.

The Act was introduced in 2002 during Moyo’s first stint at the Information ministry with the aim of gagging the private media.

According to Amnesty International POSA was enacted in January 2002 as part of an overall strategy by the government authorities to hinder the campaigning activities of the MDC in the run-up to the presidential elections in March 2002.

Amnesty International said the law tightened restrictions on the independent media and gave sweeping powers to the police. Ncube said the need for that reform had not gone away with the death of the GNU.

“The harsh media laws must be done away with. These laws can be used to take away the freedoms that are enshrined in the new constitution. It is only in dealing with these laws that this government can show that it wants a conducive environment for the media,” he said.

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