THE Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter (Misa-Zimbabwe) has made a passionate plea to government principals to urgently implement media reforms following the signing into law of the new Constitution by President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday.
In a letter written to Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and MDC leader Welshman Ncube, Misa-Zimbabwe said there was an urgent need to streamline media laws, media regulatory bodies and the public media to allow conformity of the new constitution to other regional and international laws that provide for freedom of the media and of expression.
Misa-Zimbabwe chairman Njabulo Ncube noted that laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Broadcasting Services Act, Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act, Interception of Communications Act, Official Secrets Act and Broadcasting Services Act, among others, should be repealed because they stifle media freedom.
Ncube said: “Viewed in the context of the forthcoming elections, ensuring that these reforms are instituted well in advance will not only allow for increased enjoyment of media freedom, citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and access to information, but will go a long way in complying with the Sadc Guidelines and Principles on the Conduct of Democratic Elections as well as the region’s asserted position on Zimbabwe’s election roadmap.
“We humbly submit that the urgency of these reforms is of significant importance ahead of the harmonised elections and thus necessitate increased impetus towards the realignment and streamlining of the country’s laws, media regulatory bodies and the public media accordingly.”
Ncube added that: “In making this humble appeal, MISA-Zimbabwe together with its alliance partners under the auspices of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), is not only guided by the universally accepted fact on the critical role played by the media in the enjoyment of fundamental rights, but more so by the fact that media freedom by its very intrinsic nature, is a key ingredient in complying with democratic benchmarks.”