World Press Freedom Day Statement
MMPZ joins Zimbabweans, and the rest of the world in commemorating World Press Freedom Day which is celebrated on May 3rd every year. Coming under the theme “Media Freedom has the Power to Transform Societies”, this year’s occasion allows Zimbabweans an opportunity to assess the state of media freedom and freedom of expression in Zimbabwe.
Regrettably, MMPZ remains gravely concerned with the repressive media environment that continues to exist in Zimbabwe in spite of the coalition government’s media reform mandate under the Global Political Agreement (GPA). Zimbabweans, still await the repeal or amendment of repressive statutes, such as, the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and Broadcasting Services Act (BSA). These repressive laws continue to restrict Zimbabweans’ freedoms of expression and association and are inimical to the holding of free and fair elections.
Although limited advances have been made in regard to the print media with the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) licensing new independent newspapers, this constitutes an insignificant change in the media environment as these newspapers are accessible only to those living in urban areas and are expensive for the ordinary citizen. Because state newspaper groups and the national broadcaster, ZBC, continue to provide biased and superficial coverage of political developments and portray a false picture of the reason for the power-sharing government, the Zimbabwean public, particularly those living in marginalized communities, lack access to any fair, adequate and credible news service. Zimbabwe’s state media, both broadcasting and print, continue to be blatantly biased in favour of one political party and take every opportunity to spew hate language and to denigrate its partners in government and other perceived opponents without affording them fair and balanced media coverage.
Undemocratic and repressive insult and defamation laws have been used to unjustly persecute journalists and civilians for what should otherwise be acceptable criticism of the president or the state in a democratic society. A case in point is the December 2011 incident when two employees of MMPZ, Fadzai December, Molly Chimhanda, and a workshop facilitator, Gilbert Mabusa were arrested and incarcerated for two weeks following their facilitation of a community civic education workshop. Since November 2011, the following journalists or media workers have either been intimidated, detained or arrested; Nevanji Madanhire, Nqaba Matshazi, Stanley Gama, Xolisani Ncube, Andrison Manyere, Sidney Saize, Andrew Mambondiani, Chengetai Murimwa, Admire Matenda, Moses Matenga and Gift Phiri.
In conclusion, MMPZ recommends that:
1. The Zimbabwean legislature removes the restrictive provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act to facilitate the establishment of a new independent, representative Broadcasting Authority responsible for the issuing of broadcasting licences to regulate the airwaves fairly and without political interference;
2. The public service broadcaster be re-established under an independent, representative body that will safeguard its editorial independence and ensure that it fulfils its public mandate to report events fairly and accurately as well as reflect fairly the opinions of all sections of Zimbabwean society;
3. The ongoing abuse of the public media by the present authorities be stopped forthwith;
4. AIPPA be repealed in its entirety and those sections of POSA and the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act that unreasonably constrain freedom of expression, association and assembly be amended;
5. The Zimbabwean government implements reforms that provide a constitutional guarantee of freedom of the media and promote its voluntary self-regulation; and
6. The coalition government condemns all forms of violations against the media, human rights defenders and journalists.
This STATEMENT was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 9 Knight Bruce Road, Milton Park, Harare, Tel: 263 4 741816 / 778115, E-mail: email@example.com
Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message. For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at http://www.mmpz.org/
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