By Staff Reporter
Media reforms are an imperative if Zimbabwe is to fully embrace the human and constitutional rights of freedoms of the press, association and assembly.
Media rights are guaranteed in the Zimbabwe constitution in Section 61 and 62 and globally in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
The revelations were made at a belated world press freedom day celebration for the MISA Harare Chapter that coincided with the institution’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Speaking at the event, past MISA national president Kumbirai Mafunda said, “3 May (World Press Freedom Day) remains an important day for the media sector as we reflect on the gains and losses relating to media freedom”.
Challenges are still faced in terms of media freedom as the monopoly by government continually pushes for plurality within the media whilst stifling the much required diversity.
“Plurality without diversity is not good for the media. As in our case, we are recording a growth in the number of media houses and stations but they are owned by the same people. In turn, there has not been a diversified growth within the media” Garikai Chaunza, MISA Harare Chapter Chairperson, said at the AGM.
Freedom of access and association legislation was described as repressive as the media was subject to a political hierarchy that honours some and dishonours others.
“The advantages of access, especially to government related news and advertising remains a privilege to some media houses, with government officials denying other media houses interviews and advertising” Chaunza added.
Internet interception and shutdown remains another impediment in Africa, as experienced in Zimbabwe early this year, following February demonstrations, hampering operations of the media.
“We could not publish or broadcast after the Internet shutdown that followed the demonstrations and this was a bad experience to media freedom in the name of state security.”
Restrictive media laws remain an impediment in the professional execution of media duties with current media law alignment processes offering hope for better media operating conditions.
“We have constantly called for Government’s repeal of AIPPA and POSA and we hope in realigning the laws to the 2013 constitution the challenges experienced resultant of these laws will be repealed” Njabulo Ncube, former MISA Chairperson said.
Media challenges are a global phenomenon that are utilised by Governments to push their agendas and inhibit regime change especially in Africa with Zimbabwe ranking low in terms of media freedom.
The belated World Press Freedom Day commemorations were attended by MISA members and mostly, private media was represented.