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Shamu accused some sections of the media of “abusing” press freedom to advance a sinister agenda and threatened to return the country to the era of vicious media repression which often intensifies during elections.

“I can also predict that if the clearly anti-African and anti-Zimbabwe frenzy we have experienced through some media outlets and platforms in this country continues, and if the conspiracy of silence within the media industry and journalism profession also persists, the gloves may soon be off here as well,” Shamu warned.

“If the last five years of change do not show the media industry and the journalism profession to have fulfilled their promises, then the sovereign people of Zimbabwe have no option but to intervene and protect themselves through the instruments of state, that is to revert to the regulatory regime of 2001-2007.”

Shamu’s remarks came as Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai slammed the minister for blocking media reforms, saying the process had remained in limbo even though it was crucial to creating a democratic society, especially going towards elections.

Tsvangirai said the government had not only failed to repeal repressive laws that stand in the way of media freedom, such as Aippa, Posa, the Broadcasting Services Act, Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, and Interception of Communications Act, but “we have also failed to bring in the necessary legislation that would have promoted press freedom, such as the Freedom of Information Act”.

The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe said journalists are capable of reporting fairly, accurately and in the best public interest. It said self-regulation was the most democratic solution to challenges facing the media.

The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe called for the new constitution to expressly guarantee media freedom, access to information, freedom of artistic creativity and academic freedom, adding any restrictions on the right to freedom of expression should be provided for by law and only serve a legitimate public interest and be necessary in a civilised and democratic society.

MISA Zimbabwe said although it was encouraged by the opening of the print media sector with the licensing of more than 30 publications, the legislative framework remained a threat to the sustainability of the very same publications.

The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe expressed grave concern with the present repressive media environment despite promised reforms.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said although his union would not tire in the struggle to free the airwaves, oppose unwarranted arrests of journalists and the repealing of repressive media laws, it would also focus on campaigning against sexual harassment in the media.

Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum chairman Brian Mangwende said governments, the corporate world and society must be subjected to media scrutiny and allow the press to function freely. –– Staff Writer.

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