PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa should crack the whip on bureaucrats dilly-dallying over implementation of media reforms that are key towards entrenching democracy, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa)-Zimbabwe has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In its 2017 state of the media report, Misa-Zimbabwe said Mnangagwa should walk the talk and implement the long overdue media reforms before this year’s elections.
“He should crack the whip against bureaucrats’ dilly-dallying on the implementation of media reforms, which should serve as key result areas, among other expected changes, to entrench democracy in Zimbabwe,” Misa said.
“The President should also ensure the safety and security of journalists conducting their lawful professional duties. Above all, he should also be accessible to the media as it fulfils its watchdog role to foster transparency and accountability.”
Misa-Zimbabwe said media law and policy reforms could easily be an overnight process unlike “the case with the anticipated economic transformation, which relies on international goodwill and huge foreign capital inflows and investments.”
The media advocacy group said government should align restrictive laws such as Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Broadcasting Services Act, Public Order and Security Act and sections of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) as provided for in terms of the Constitution’s Chapter 4 Declaration of Rights.
“Zimbabwe should sign and ratify the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which promotes the consolidation of democratic governance and human rights in Africa through adoption of the charter’s relevant clauses into domestic law and policies ahead of the 2018 elections,” Misa said.
Government should also formulate the cyber security framework in sync with national and regional principles that protect privacy of communication, private property and the right of all citizens to freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information.
Misa said authorities should ensure citizen participation in the transparent and democratic appointment process of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation board, while securing and guaranteeing its independence and accountability in carrying out its public service mandate.
“The government, and fundamentally, its security arms, as well as political parties, should ensure a safe working environment for journalists and provide leadership within and outside government in raising awareness on the need to ensure the safety of journalists and media workers,” reads the report.