Zimbabwe: Stakeholders Welcome Media Reforms

Herald Reporter

Government has been commended for implementing media reforms resulting in the improvement of the working environment for journalists and other media practitioners.

Media law and policy reforms commenced with the announcement of the legislative agenda for the Ninth Parliament by President Mnangagwa.

Giving oral evidence virtually before the Sipho Ndlovu Mokone-chaired Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Zimpapers chief executive Mr Pikirayi Deketeke , said journalists countrywide were now working freely.

"The Second Republic has forged ahead with media reforms, creating a more conducive environment," he said.

"We believe our journalists are able to work freely now. The most notable was the repeal of AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act), replacing it with the Freedom of Information Act. Criminalisation of publication of an inaccurate or false story is no longer there. There are now other remedies.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has made the operating environment difficult for journalists. We are, however, grateful that the Government quickly responded to the request to declare journalists essential service providers and facilitated their easy movement.

"They went a step further by including them on the list of those that were first on the line to be vaccinated." Mr Deketeke said media operators were waiting to see how the Media Practitioners Bill would be received, expressing hope that it would smoothen the operating environment as it would professional journalists from citizen journalists.

"An important part of the Bill is that it seeks to achieve co-regulation," he said.

"Our journalists have always been in favour of self-regulation, but we also accept the argument for statutory regulation. We believe the two can co-exist in the interest of good journalism.

"We believe the Bill will smoothen the operating environment as it will clearly define who a journalist is in the context of social media where everyone is calling themselves a journalist.

"We expect trust levels to improve as audiences will be able to clearly separate work done by professional journalists from that done by citizen journalists."

Mr Deketeke hailed the Giving oral evidence before the same committee, Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe national director Mr Thabani Moyo called on the Government to come up with a detailed strategy on bailing out and ensuring the media remained sustainable in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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