MISA Zimbabwe commemorated the 2017 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) on 2 May 2017 at the Holiday Inn, in Harare. The breakfast meeting, which was attended by 80 stakeholders, reinforced the need to ensure that digital rights are promoted and sufficiently protected in line with the constitution. This follows government’s plans to enact cyber laws supposedly to curb cyber crimes.
Representing the ministry of Information Communication Technology and Courier Services, the guest of honour Deputy Minister Dr. Win Mlambo impressed upon civil society and the media to take advantage of consultative processes in order for them to submit their positions in the formulation of the proposed law.
He committed to help convene another meeting where civil society and the media could further engage with government on the planned legislation.
At the same event, MISA Zimbabwe Chairman Kumbirai Mafunda called on government to ensure the proposed law would not be used to erode citizens’ basic rights in the quest to fight cyber crimes. He also called for wholesale reform of the media legislative framework.
“… government (should) overhaul the media legislative framework to ensure that media freedom liberties granted in the constitution are a living reality. This should include formulating a cyber security framework that is in sync with national and regional principles that protect privacy of communication, private property and the right of all citizens to freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information,” said Mafunda.
During a panel discussion with representatives from three relevant parliamentary portfolio committees, chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communications and Courier Services MP Nelson Chamisa said promotion of digital rights should be accompanied by increasing access to the Internet for Zimbabweans. He emphasized that fragmented regulation of the media and ICTs impacted negatively in the development of the sectors.
MPs William Dhewa (chairperson of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media Information and Broadcasting Services) and Fortune Chasi, (member of the Parliamentary Legal Committee) expressed disappointment at the slow pace with which government is realigning laws with the constitution.
On May 6 2017, MISA Zimbabwe will hold belated WPFD commemorations in nine (9) towns where it has a presence through its advocacy committees. All citizens are invited to participate in the events.