I WAS pleased to see the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) and the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) speak out about an upcoming Allâ€“Stakeholders Media Conference being organised by the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity.
The conference is themed â€œtowards an open, tolerant, and responsible media environmentâ€.
Its objective is â€œto review Zimbabweâ€™s current media environment and policies in order to guide the governmentâ€™s media policy.â€
It replaces an event planned for March which Deputy Minister of Media, Information and Publicity Jameson Timba called â€œthe first consultative step by the ministry as it reviews Zimbabweâ€™s media environment and policies with a view to advising the inclusive government on its new policy.â€
But the substance of the two events seems quite different.
As MAZ and VMCZ point out, many of the speakers in the revised programme are the same people who have blocked media freedom and opposed liberalisation of publishing and broadcasting over the past ten years.
The 15-minute presentation on â€œBeing seen to be free and fair: Media and electioneeringâ€ is hosted by Lovemore Sekeramayi, which does not exactly inspire confidence. Web 2.0 publishing gets 15 dedicated minutes â€“â€“ under the topic â€œNew media and accountability: The role of ghost sites and blogs.â€ What a strange route towards reform!
How are the same people who closed down Zimbabweâ€™s media environment and made it characterised by intolerance, irresponsibility and propaganda going to be the ones to open it up and make it more tolerant and responsible?