As President Emmerson Mnangagwa assumes his presidency following his inauguration as Zimbabwe’s new leader, MISA Zimbabwe urges him to prioritise the implementation of long overdue media reforms critical to a new democratic dispensation.
In his inauguration speech on 24 November 2017, President Mnangagwa said he would ensure that the pillars of democracy are strengthened and respected.
In breaking with the past, President Mnangagwa should also ensure the safety and security of journalists conducting their lawful professional duties. Above all, he should also be accessible to the media as it fulfils its watchdog role to foster transparency and accountability.
In the same spirit, MISA Zimbabwe calls for the speedy alignment of the country’s media laws and policies with the Constitution as provided for in terms of Sections 61 and 62 and indeed other fundamental sections enshrined under the Declaration of Rights.
Sections 61 and 62 guarantee the right to freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information .
The pillars of democracy cannot be strengthened through the continued existence of repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), among others.
These laws impinge on citizens’ right to freedom of expression and free flow of information which is critical in shaping a new democratic dispensation. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) should thus be transformed into a truly independent public broadcaster that is open to diverse views and opinions from Zimbabwe’s multi-sectoral populace.
MISA Zimbabwe therefore urges the new President to crack the whip for speedy implementation of media reforms that have been outstanding since the coming into being of Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution.