Govt urged to constantly provide info to citizens

Media stakeholders have called on the government to ensure that its institutions provide citizens with access to information to minimise the spread of fake news in the country.

BY FARAI MATIASHE

The call, however, comes at a time the government has been accused by content creators as one of the biggest peddlers of fake news.

Speaking at a panel discussion on fake news organised by Perch Media in Harare on Wednesday, media consultant Koliwe Majama said when public institutions deny citizens information through public means, they find a way to get it, even if it means leaving a gap for fake news.

“When you look at the process that the African Commission is going through now to revise the declaration on freedom of information, it answers to (access to) information, you can’t separate the two. You can’t start to talk about freedom of expression without access to information. So the only way is to have more open public institutions,” she said.

Information ministry director for international communication services, Ivanoe Gurira, said government, through the weekly post-Cabinet briefing, was striving to timeously and openly provide information to the public.

“We are not already at 100%. We think communication is very important, it is the livelihood of any society and information in our age has become as precious as the oxygen that we need. Government will continue working to improve the public communication strategy platforms. Government, after every Cabinet briefing, has a media briefing to update citizens on every decision made by the government,” he said.

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Gurira added that government, in the near future, would consider doing daily briefings with the media in a bid to give information to the citizens.

“What I like about the United States of America is that they have daily briefings. We are at a weekly basis, but I think in the future, we will move to more regular briefings, at least with the media. If the government comes up with daily briefings, that would, to a greater extent, sanitise the environment and reduce fake news,” he said.

Gurira also suggested that there was need to regulate social media as it is the major platform for fake news.

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