Pressure mount for gvt to open up the media

Mbizo legislator, Settlement Chikwinya on Tuesday tabled a motion calling on the Executive to bring before Parliament, a repeal or amendment of laws that continue to impede on media freedom.  

“While celebrating the consummation of the Global Political Agreement, in particular its expressed commitment to reforming the media environment in Zimbabwe as stated in Article 19 of the same,” the motion reads, “We are concerned by the slow progress made towards achieving media plurality and diversity.”  

 

In his motion, Chikwinya, an MDC MP, further bemoans the continued abuse of the State media by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and the biased reportage that continues to be displayed by the former.  

 

Chikwinya added, “We are alarmed by the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity’s brazen and unbridled contempt of a High Court ruling that declared the Media and Information Commission illegal and concerned by the slow pace of constituting the Zimbabwe Media Commission.”  

 

The motion also calls on Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee and the Minister of Media, Information and Publicity to constitute the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), which also should start granting licenses to other players by  August 6, 2009.  

 

In a separate interview with with our reporter, Chikwinya said he had designated August 6 as it was the last day of the inclusive government’s second 100-day programme.  

Chikwinya said, “This motion will ensure that we as parliamentarians reassert our oversight role on the Executive among the three arms of the State. We are saying government should be able to meet its own targets.”

The GPA binds the inclusive government to ensure the “immediate” processing of all applications for re-registration and registration by various media players in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

It further calls on balanced and fair coverage by the public media.

But four months into the new dispensation, government has not yet delivered on its pledges.

Government has come under siege from apprehensive media stakeholders who feel it was not intent on executing much needed media reforms.

Four freelance journalists early this month took the Information Ministry to court to pressure it to disband the Tafataona Mahoso-led MIC which continues to preside over media affairs in spite of its status as a legally defunct body.

 

Government has called for applications to various commissions, including the Zimbabwe Media Commission. Journalists in Harare meet Wednesday evening to discuss the way forward about the government’s invitation for those interested in sitting on the media commission.

The Mahoso banned newspapers and journalists viewed too negative to Zanu PF.

A group of Harare based journalists last month staged a street demonstration while demanding the introduction of media reforms in Zimbabwe.