Zimbabwe: Journalists Welcome Media Practitioners' Bill

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINEF) have welcomed Cabinet's approval of the principles of the Media Practitioners' Bill, which among other things, seeks to promote the independence and co-regulation of media practitioners.

A key aspect of the Bill is the establishment of a Zimbabwe Media Practitioners Council, which will be responsible for regulating and enforcing professionalism among all media practitioners. The Media Council will have delegated powers from the Zimbabwe Media Commission to discipline its members, with the Commission serving as an appellant body.

In a joint statement, ZUJ and ZINEF expressed their support for a framework that allows an industry-led mechanism to regulate media affairs, with the Commission providing oversight and appeal functions.

"The emphasis is on ensuring media professionalism, having the industry self-regulate independently and to ensure journalism is protected.

"Against this background, ZUJ and ZINEF welcome the Cabinet principles obtained in the 30th of April 2024 Government advisory as pronounced by Minister Muswere, on the basis that the legislative intent aligns with our position of the need to professionalise the sector, anchoring co-regulation on a law that provides space for the industry to elect representatives that superintend over the affairs of media practitioners and the principles provide for the independence of this proposed regulatory mechanism," reads part of the statement.

For years, the two bodies have been advocating for a law that enables self-regulation, allowing the media industry to govern itself autonomously.

Proposals to have a law that gives effect to the co-regulation of the media are a by-product of a more than a decade long push back by Zimbabwean journalists and the media sector opposed to statutory regulation of the media as provided for by the widely condemned Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Statutory regulation of the media was to be further entrenched by the establishment of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) among the independent constitutional bodies in the 2013 Constitution and subsequently the enabling legislation, the ZMC Act enacted in 2022.

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