'Zim media still underdeveloped'

HARARE - As Zimbabwe marked its 35th independence on Saturday, journalists and media activists feel the media landscape remains largely underdeveloped.

Media activist Tabani Moyo says the best way to understand the landscape of the media in present day Zimbabwe vis-à-vis the colonial era, is to do so through zooming on its structure, content, ownership and the policy framework.

He says on law and policy there has been a significant movement from the colonial era through the homegrown Constitution that explicitly guarantees media freedom and access to information, compared to the colonial era.

“However we have inherited a lethal set of laws from the oppressive administration of (Ian) Smith, which the black government is still using to stifle media freedom and freedom of expression in an independent Zimbabwe,” Moyo said.

“The laws range from the Official Secrets Act, Parliamentary Privileges and Immunities Act, Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act among others.

“It remains a paradox that a liberation movement inherits such Stone Age laws for 21st Century public administration. These laws, read together with the post 2000 set of laws enacted by the government, account for the lack of media development and growth in the independent Zimbabwe. This is made worse by the fact that the government is reluctant to review the repressive Acts in line with the new Constitution.”

He says the government, inspired by the Smith regime also took control of the ZimPapers newspaper stable and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation in its quest to maintain hegemonic supremacy of agenda setting and propagating pro-establishment thinking and strong hold to power.

“This has seen the government interfering the very same way its predecessor did with the government mouth pieces in its desperate need to retain political capital in dynamic socio-political and economic environment. However, the new approach for the government is to license as many newspapers as is possible so that they collapse as they compete on price.”

This investment interest by the government in the newspaper and monopoly of television has seen the government maintaining institutions that were supposed to be public utilities into government and political parties’ mouthpieces.

“The structure has significantly changed for the print media but remained literally the same, as the Zanu PF-led government seems to be licensing individuals and companies to establish radio stations ahead of the 2018 general elections. Hence the more the things change; the more they remain the same.”

Misa-Zimbabwe board chairperson Kumbirai Mafunda says while he is not quite familiar with the 80s and 90s, what worries him most is the litany of legislation that hinder freedom of expression and freedom of the media and the government’s insatiable appetite to regulate and control the media.

“We yearn for a free media and an environment where citizens are free to express themselves and remain free after expressing themselves and not this increasing practice of arresting citizens under insult laws,” Mafunda said.

“It’s deplorable that we still have defamation laws in our country despite the widespread pronouncements denouncing such provisions.”

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.