The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chapter has welcomed the draft constitution, but called on the government to repeal draconian laws affecting the work of journalists.
Misa chairperson Njabulo Ncube told journalists during an annual general meeting on Saturday in Harare that laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), Broadcasting Services Act and the Official Secrets Act criminalised journalism.
“Freedom of expression and access to the media is enshrined in the new draft constitution, but we still have laws like Aippa, the Broadcasting Services Act, the Official Secrets Act and others that can steal that freedom enshrined in the constitution,” he said.
“We still have a long way to go to try and have those laws amended or repealed and there are still laws that discriminate against journalists. We have to lobby for the repeal of those laws.”
Nhlanhla Ngwenya, director of the local Misa chapter, lamented confusion over State ownership of the media.
“There is no way you can guarantee independence of the media if it is State-owned,” he said.
“Provisions on the access to information section in the draft are not clear on how long institutions should take to provide information to journalists.
“If it is left like that, we are going to have a situation whereby legislation will give bureaucratic space like 30-day or 60-day periods for journalists to get information released from institutions.”