MEDIA, Information and Communication Technology Portfolio Committee chairperson Settlement Chikwinya at the weekend said he will invite input from media stakeholders before taking his media draft Private Members’ Bill to Parliament.
Report by Moses Matenga
This follows an outcry from media stakeholders who felt the draft was criminalising the profession and was a replica of the “draconian” Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
Chikwinya, who is MP for Mbizo constituency, said his team is soliciting views from stakeholders in the media industry, among them the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
“We are taking input from stakeholders and from there we will take them to a second scrutiny by all involved media players. Some of the views that are coming are that we need to clearly put in place a self-regulatory framework and take out any State interference,” Chikwinya said.
“It’s a draft Bill meant to solicit the views to formulate a Bill. The consultation process is still going on. Once we agree with media players, then the motion is introduced in Parliament.”
VMCZ chairman Alec Muchadehama said though they acknowledged discussions and consultations taking place, the draft Bill carried elements that were still regarded as “draconian”.
“The Bill, while seeking to transform the media legislative framework through calling for the repeal of the draconian Aippa, an Act that has been used to arbitrarily arrest and detain journalists, unfortunately retains provisions in the Bill that are still undemocratic and hinder freedom of expression,” Muchadehama said.
“The Bill retains the Zimbabwe Media Commission and a media council under provisions that, in our view, do not conform to the spirit and letter of Section 20 of the current Constitution, Article IX of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights as well as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”