With the lockdown coming into effect, the sad reality for the majority of Zimbabweans is that internet access remains a challenge with Zimbabwe having been ranked amongst some of the countries with the most expensive data in Africa.
MISA Zimbabwe notes with concern that highly questionable fees, which do not promote the exercise of rights, have been effected recently by different agencies.
MISA Zimbabwe by virtue of this notification has with immediate effect downscaled its operations to reduce the possible spreading of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) among its staff and other stakeholders.
MISA Zimbabwe calls for the review of listener’s fees for radio and television following the increase of listeners’ licence fees for both radio and television by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
MISA Zimbabwe and Media Alliance of Zimbabwe recommend that independence of the Zimbabwe Media Commission be guarded by ensuring that the minister’s powers to interfere with its operations are removed.
Simbarashe Sithole a news reporter with NewsDay Zimbabwe was reportedly arraigned before Zanu PF politicians by the party’s provincial chairperson at a meeting in Mvurwi to explain a story about an alleged rift between MPs and war veterans in the province.
MISA Zimbabwe maintains that the process used to identify the 10 areas earmarked for the community radio stations was not transparent and had disadvantages to other prospective players.
The Zimbabwe government needs to strike a strategic balance between security concerns and digital rights through safeguarding citizens and content creators’ rights to free expression, in particular, and access to information and the right to privacy.
The Zimbabwe government needs to urgently prioritise the transformation of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and review and amend the Broadcasting Services Act, in line with the country’s Constitution and other regional and international instruments.
On 31 January 2020, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services gazetted two Statutory Instruments. SI 26 of 2020 regulates Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting Services while SI 27 of 2020 regulates issues relating to Licensing and Content.