MP pushes for urgent media reforms

KWEKWE Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya has moved a motion in parliament for urgent reforms of the country’s media laws in line with the Global Political Agreement that resulted in the formation of the inclusive government.


Chikwinya last week challenged MPs to push for the repeal or laws affecting the media after accusing the executive of dragging its heels in promoting press freedom. Nyanga North MP Douglas Mwonzora seconded the motion.

“I therefore want to call upon the executive, in particular the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, to bring on pieces of legislation for amendment or repeal in this House,” said Chikwinya.
“While I appreciate that there are plans to put in place the Zimbabwe Media Commission, this noble idea will not be able to operate to our expectations because the prevailing media backgrounds prohibits so.”
His motion came two days before the clerk of parliament Austin Zvoma said a parliamentary sub-committee of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee –– the Law and Procedure Committee –– would this week start to shortlist candidates to fill posts for the four public commissions including the ZMC. Other statutory bodies are the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
Chikwinya criticised public media and the state-controlled broadcaster, ZBC, for unfair and biased coverage of the former opposition party, which is now a partner in the four-month-old coalition government.
He said the coalition government would go “nowhere” if existing media laws exist, adding that parliament should summon Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu to introduce reviews or amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act before the end of the inclusive government’s 100-day plan on August 6.
Chikwinya challenged Shamu “to constitute the Broadcasting Services Board which should immediately start granting licences to other players by August 6”.
He added that the constituting of the Zimbabwe Media Commission be quickened and brought to finality by mid-July.
Chikwinya said Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa should also bring to parliament “amendments of all clauses” of the Criminal Law (Reform and Codification) Act, which he blames for curtailing media freedom.
“Madam Speaker, allow me to call upon the executive and in particular the co-ministers of Home Affairs to bring before parliament for amendment or repeal all clauses contained in the Public Order and Security Act by 6th August, 2009,” he said.
Parliament, the MDC Mbizo MP added, should also repeal or amend the Interception of Communications Act.
“The ZMC is not in the best of conditions but people should appreciate that we are a step towards achieving our set goals,” Chikwinya said.

BY BERNARD MPOFU