Journalists lobby for opening of airwaves

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Young Journalists Association (YOJA) has bemoaned government’s failure to open airwaves as promised for quite a long time, saying it threatens the future of emerging journalists who are forced into freelancing or unemployment.

BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO/LORRAINE MUROMO

YOJA spokesperson Leopold Munhende , in a statement to commemorate the World Press Freedom Day which falls on May 3, said failure to open the airwaves was putting the future of young journalists and the profession in jeopardy.

“The future of journalism is under threat and, indeed, the future of young journalists itself, their livelihoods and survival. The continued unfulfilled promises by government to open up airwaves to independent television broadcasters have done more harm to the development of this noble profession. The opening up of airwaves will result in employment creation and better opportunities for young journalists,” he said.

“State-run broadcaster ZBC has shown its incapacities, with the latest being its failure to broadcast President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Independence Day speech. The embarrassing failure is clear testament we need more than one television station and it is a disgrace we have to waste time asking for something like this in a 40-year-old Zimbabwe.”

Munhende, who was once arrested while on duty, also lamented the unrelenting violations of media rights.

“The day comes at a time we continue to record media rights violations. The number of reporters arrested or harassed over the COVID-19 lockdown is worrisome and the State should be concerned. We had hoped media repression would be a thing of the past,” he said.

“Journalism without fear or favour, this year’s theme, is what each and every journalist on diaries across the country hopes for. Let journalists work without fear, let the industry develop and democracy will become a reality.”

Also commemorating World Press Day, Community Newspapers Association of Zimbabwe (CNAZ) said citizens face the threat of fake news.

CNAZ secretary-general Owen Matawa said: “As an association, we have noted that as the pandemic spreads, it has also given rise to a second pandemic of misinformation, from harmful health advice to wild conspiracy theories.
“It is our view as CNAZ that the Press provides the antidote of churning out verified, scientific, fact-based news and analysis.”

CNAZ called on law enforcers to stop harassing and arresting journalists.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there were at least 250 imprisoned journalists globally at the time of its 2019 census worldwide.