Freeman Razemba, Harare Bureau
Government says national political dialogue recently launched by President Mnangagwa was not a power sharing negotiation or an initiative towards the creation of Government of National Unity (GNU) but a platform to engender a culture of unity and working together in the country.
The State is also regretting the actions of certain political actors who seek to project Zimbabwe as beset by “unresolved political questions” when last year’s elections and a Constitutional Court ruling on the Presidential election put to bed the issue of the country’s leadership.
Zanu-PF led by President Mnangagwa won the harmonised elections, beating the opposition MDC-Alliance led by Mr Nelson Chamisa who has, however, continued politicking and electioneering on the basis of what he calls “crisis of legitimacy”.
In a meeting with editors from diffferent media houses yesterday, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa said challenges confronting the country require collective effort and unity of purpose at all levels, which was the basis of national dialogue.
“It is for this noble cause that His Excellency, the President, called for national dialogue across all political parties so we put our minds together to confront our challenges and work as a nation to move the country forward.
“I want to take this opportunity to clarify that dialogue is not the same thing with power -sharing negotiations. Every time we go for elections to elect a government, losers selectively choose components of the election results to accept and reject,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
President Mnangagwa has initiated engagements with political parties that participated in last year’s harmonised elections.
At least 18 political parties are participating in the national dialogue.
MDC-Alliance leader, Mr Chamisa, has declined the opportunity to participate in the dialogue but whenever he addresses his party supporters, he never misses an opportunity to suggest that dialogue is the best way forward for the country.
“We have individuals and parties that choose to disrespect the electoral and judicial systems for their selfish ends. Such uncouth behaviour projects our country as a nation with unresolved political questions when deep down their hearts, these entities and personalities know very well that they lost in a fair and credible plebiscite,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said Zimbabweans need to get out of the election mode and work together to build the country.
“Politics leads the way in statecraft and if we are not stable as people all other areas in the country will not be stable. Such behaviour is holding us back as a nation as it stifles our re-engagement efforts and will make recovery more painful. We need to get out of the election mode that continues to seize us and work together to build our country. However, dialogue which is underpinned by sharing of ideas to come up with national solutions is plausible and welcome,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Turning to yesterday’s meeting with editors, Minister Mutsvangwa said the major objective was to share ideas on the main issues affecting the media sector.
This was the second time she has met local editors since her appointment as minister last year.
She said it was now more than six months since that meeting and a lot of developments had happened warranting that they meet again to update each other on gains made thus far, the drawbacks or shortfalls encountered and to hear their concerns and contributions as a way of collectively reflecting and review their progress.
Minister Mutsvangwa said this would help in mapping the best way to confront the future for increased efficiency and effectiveness in the discharge of their information mandate.
She said Government efforts to create an enabling environment for the media sector puts substantial responsibility of governance into their hands.
“The media has in modern times been referred to as the Fourth Estate, taking after the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. This was necessitated by the important role the media sector plays in nation building. Allow me to share with you that the issue of nation building is to a greater extent driven by the notion of national interest.
She added, “Whilst we have a role to inform the nation for nation building, we should also be conscious as media that we have a national duty to play in advancing that national interest which I said should be about promoting viewpoints that guarantee national survival.
“I implore you to write to unite the nation, write about that which does not harm the nation, write to protect Zimbabwe’s competitiveness and that which promotes the interest of the country whilst exposing that which harms us as a people.”
Minister Mutsvangwa told editors that the Second Republic was committed to creating an enabling media environment.
The process involves aligning media laws so that they are in sync with the constitution as well as repealing laws whose spirit and construct stifle growth in the media industry.
She said the ministry has set in motion a media reform process under which the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) would be repealed.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the ministry has presented to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation the principles that will shape the Bills that succeed AIPPA and govern the media sector.
The Bills are, the Freedom of Information Bill, the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill and the Broadcasting Amendment Bill.
Said Minister Mutsvangwa: “Related to this is that Government has set in motion a process to repeal the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). It is the ministry’s considered view that once these Bills are passed into law, the governance of the information sector will never be the same again.”
She also assured the nation that by year end, the country will also have community based radio stations.
Minister Mutsvangwa said it was encouraging that the ministry now had a draft media policy which will be presented to Cabinet next Tuesday.