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We can without equivocation affirm that media reforms has been one of President ED Mnangagwa's achievements among many he has bagged so far By Tinashe Mukori Zimbabwe entered a new historical and political chapter in November 2017 when long-serving President Robert Mugabe was ousted through operation restore legacy. His successor, His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa pledged to liberalise and democratize the air waves and broaden the democratic space, including repealing belligerent media laws. In light of this pledge to reform the media, tremendous reforms have been implemented and a lot more is being done.
We can without equivocation affirm that media reforms has been one of President ED Mnangagwa’s achievements among many he has bagged so far
By Tinashe Mukori
Zimbabwe entered a new historical and political chapter in November 2017 when long-serving President Robert Mugabe was ousted through operation restore legacy.
His successor, His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa pledged to liberalise and democratize the air waves and broaden the democratic space, including repealing belligerent media laws.
In light of this pledge to reform the media, tremendous reforms have been implemented and a lot more is being done. The President promisED, he deliverED and many BelievED!
The legislative wheel has been turning since the approval by Cabinet in February 2019 of the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). As a result, the Freedom of Information Act was enacted in July 2020, the Cybersecurity and Data Protection Bill was gazetted in May 2020 and then on the 2nd of April 2021, the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act was enacted.
These laws are crucial in addressing the thematic issues that AIPPA catered for which include access to information, media regulation and data protection and or protection of personal information.
The Bills and Acts seeks to facilitate and enhance access to information, media space pluralism, liberalisation of the Broadcasting industry and to attract more investment in the sector among other things.
AIPPA was believed to be a conflation of issues like access to information, regulation and protection of personal privacy and hence it needed disaggregation.
Freedom of Information Act provides for the constitutional right of freedom of expression, freedom of the media, and the right to access information whereas the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act is concerned with regulation.
The Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill seeks to solidify national efforts to enhance liberalisation of the Broadcasting sector through increased private and community ownership and investment, including foreign participation.
It is vital that as the enjoyment of media freedoms and liberties are enhanced, media practitioners should be accountable and be responsible in their conduct. In order to foster accountability, the drafted Media Practitioners Bill will go through the legislative processes.It also includes the principles of co-regulation.
Now, 14 community radio stations have been licensed, with almost half of them in Matebeleland.
Furthermore, seven campus radio stations and six commercial television stations have been licensed. The six TV broadcasting licences were awarded to Jester Media Services trading as 3K TV, Zimbabwe Newspapers trading as ZTN, Rusununguko Media trading as NRTV, Acacia Media Group trading as Kumba TV, Fairtalk Communications trading as Ke Yona TV, Channel Dzimbahwe trading as Channel D.
The granting of these Broadcasting licences is firmly premised on a solid constitutional foundation. Our Constitution contemplates a broadcasting sector that will exhibit “fairness and diversity of views broadly representing Zimbabwean society” as part of a media sector that is entitled not only to freedom of the media but also to “fair competition and diversity” [Constitution, section 249(1)(a) and (i)].
The Government, through legislation, creates an enabling environment for private players to flourish in various sectors of the economy, including the Broadcasting Services industry. It is therefore onerous upon private business to take advantage of these media reforms to apply for licenses and significantly participate in enhancing and broadening media diversity.
Among those granted campus radio station licences is NUST, Lupane State University and Harare Polytechnic School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Furthermore, the New Dispensation introduced a new tradition where critical information such as Cabinet deliberations are made public timeously through the Post Cabinet Press Briefs.
The Post Cabinet Brief initiative has been very instrumental in bridging the divide between the country’s decision-makers and the citizens.
Pursuant to the constitutional obligation to inform, almost all government ministries are now interactive on social media platforms to provide an ocean of information that any media practitioner can access at any given time. The New Dispensation believes in transparency and accountability and hence it is vital to share information with the media for the benefit of the public.
In addition, Access to information relating to government business is now than ever before easily available as the Ministry of Information and Publicity, being the communication hub of government, has embraced an open door policy and has an institutional role to provide information to the media and whoever so requires it.
This speaks to the unwavering commitment by the Second Republic under the astute and visionary leadership of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa to promote, diversify, democratize and further liberalize the media. A lot is still to be done but this has to be applauded.
Such feats by the New Administration come as no surprise since the President himself is a champion of Media Reforms since his time as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs in 1994 when he spoke avidly about the need to embrace media reforms.
We can without equivocation affirm that media reforms has been one of President ED Mnangagwa’s achievements among many he has bagged so far. In President ED Mnangagwa, we BelievED.
Tinashe Mukori writes in his personal capacity and the views expressed do not necessarily represent the Editorial views and position of the DSE Group Of Newspapers. Mukori is the ZANU PF Cape District Spokesperson, Acting Deputy Youth League Political Commissar, and Head Of Media and Marketing for MenBelievED Southern Diaspora. He can be contacted on email@example.com
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