Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu last week said his ministry was in the process of crafting legislation to criminalise use of hate speech by local media and what he termed pirate radio stations domiciled on foreign soil.
On the issue of hate speech, there is need for us as a nation to realise that hate speech is a problem in the media industry and not on public media only, Shamu told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology .
It ends up mirrored by our polarised media. Cabinet on May 15 directed the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity to come up with legislation that will deal with hate speech across all media houses, including pirate radio stations.
But Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe chapter advocacy officer Thabani Moyo said Shamus priorities seemed misplaced as there already was a framework to deal with the issue of hate speech in the media.
Already in the GPA (Global Political Agreement) there is Section 20 which deals with the issue of hate speech, Moyo said.
In its preamble it says all media should refrain from use of hate speech and what is outstanding is only an enabling attitude, particularly to ensure the BAZ (Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe) board is reconstituted.
He added that the minister had failed to regularise the operations of private broadcasters such as Vox Media operating as Radio VOP.
One would think that Vox Media, the owners of Radio VOP, applied for a licence so that they could come back into the country and comply, but the minister continues to defy a directive by the three principals to open up the airwaves for more players, he said.
All that needs to be done now is the repeal of restrictive media legislation.
State media, including the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, has been accused of being at the forefront of promoting hate speech on a mission to decampaign Zanu PF opponents.