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New govt must deepen media reforms

THE new government after general elections must implement further media reforms to remove remaining undue restrictions on freedom of expression, including press freedom, while promoting voluntary self-regulation among players and opening up the broadcasting sector to allow independent actors.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

This was said by the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Media, Information, Publicity, Communication and Technology, Settlement Chikwinya, at a memorial lecture for renowned journalist Bornwell Chakaodza in Harare yesterday as part of today’s World Press Freedom Day commemorations under the theme “Safe to speak: Securing freedom of expression in all media”.

Chikwinya told delegates from the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe whose members include members of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum, Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, Misa-Zimbabwe and Voluntary Media Council, among others, as well as the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC)
representatives, transformation of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) into a public broadcaster and a new law that allows democratic access to
information were among the reforms the next government must adopt. He said the new government after polls must review of media laws, promote self-regulation, establish an independent broadcasting regulator, pass a democratic access to information law, de-criminalise freedom of expression by repealing criminal defamation laws and transforming ZBC into a true public broadcaster. “No person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of freedom of expression that is to say, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference,” said Chikwinya.

ZMC commissioner Chris Mhike said:“With the flawed ‘democrats’ who constitute Zimbabwe’s ruling class lacking the political will to afford citizens optimum levels of freedom of expression, press freedom, the free flow of information, healthy levels of access to information, and other related rights, it remains to be seen if the gains made in the draft constitution will really translate into a more free society; and a more free Zimbabwean press.”

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