KARIBA — A Zanu PF Member of Parliament Zachariah Ziyambi has admitted to banning members of his constituency from listening to Voice of America’s Studio 7 or reading newspapers perceived to be hostile to his party.
The Chakari MP made the disclosure during a parliamentary workshop organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) in Kariba last week.
“Whereas there should be access to information, I have noticed that newspapers do not reach my constituency and there is also limited access to ZBC radio stations, but I have advised my constituents not to listen to Studio 7 so that they do not get distracted,” Ziyambi said.
Ziyambi’s assertions attracted a backlash from his party colleague Clifford Sibanda (Bubi) who said people should be free to access any media whether electronic or print.
But other Zanu PF MPs differed sharply.
“In my constituency, it is difficult to access ZBC and some people can access Studio 7, but as an MP I am a fighter, back from the liberation struggle and I have no problem with people listening to whatever they want because I believe that people make their own choices,” Sibanda said.
Chairman of the Senate’s Thematic Committee on Human Rights, Misheck Marava (MDC-T) said people should be encouraged to listen to all radio stations and to read different newspapers to help them make informed decisions.
“Everyone is scrambling to be heard on Studio 7 — even Zanu PF MPs,” Marava said.
“We should leave people to interpret any information they get because Zimbabweans in the remotest areas know what they want,”
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media Information and Communication Technology Settlement Chikwinya (Mbizo MDC-T MP) urged MPs to allow for free flow of information.
“In this cyber age, anyone or any piece of legislation or policy that inhibits access to information has the effect of actually generating interest to access information and in most times interested parties resort to clandestine means of then accessing that information,” Chikwinya said.