It is now important that civil society, as MISA did, lobby parliament and the executive on digital rights, by pointing out how archaic Internet shutdowns are in trying to stop sharing information and that shutdowns do more harm to the country’s reputation than good.
In recent years, the executive, legislative and judicial branches of Zimbabwe’s government, have all repeatedly acknowledged the need for legislative and policy reforms in the media sector.
Digital rights are not the reserve of a specific class of citizens but they extend to every human being who makes use of ICTs to communicate and access information.
Zimbabwe does not have an adequate data protection regime to ensure that the massive trove of the data they collect is not abused or misused.
Regarding the Broadcasting Services Act, a number of issues have so far been raised by a wide range of stakeholders regarding the alignment of this law.
On 28 September, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) launched its annual Transparency Assessment in seven southern African countries including Zimbabwe.
By regulating the media and establishing the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), the Act does not only entrench statutory media regulation but also cements the impression that access to information is a media rights issue.
Zimbabwe has become the microcosm of everything that has gone wrong with the media in Africa, thanks to statutory regulation. The state, by its nature, is averse to the free exchange of ideas and opinion because that would be a threat to its parochial interest of power retention.
There is the need for more advocacy journalism if I can put it that way, that keeps pushing the boundaries in the hope of enhancing freedom of expression and of the media.
The process of applying and obtaining a broadcasting licence in Zimbabwe especially as a private player unattached to the ruling establishment is at best described as an impossibility.