Journalists call for decentralisation of information

FROM LEFT: Alpha Media Holdings journalists, Jairos Saunyama, Aaron Ufumeli, Henry Mhara and Tinashe Muchuri pose for a picture after scooping awards at the National Journalism and Media Awards presentation at a hotel in the capital on Thursday night

Journalists from Mashonaland West province have urged State institutions and companies to decentralise public relations offices to regions in order to boost easy access to information and engender transparency if devolution is to make any impact.

By Nhau Mangirazi

The scribes made the call last week at the launch of 2020 Transparency Assessment survey by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe).

Environmental Management Agency (EMA) was voted as being the most active on social media and maintaining a “partially” up to date website during the study conducted as part of commemorations for the International Day for Universal Access to Information marked every year on 28 September.

But journalists in Chinhoyi said although EMA won, it had “failed to avail critical information” at provincial and district levels.

Freelancer James Muonwa said: “Generally, both private and public institutions don’t respect provincial public relations and this is against the government thrust of devolution.”
New Ziana editor Eugene Muchetu added that outcomes of the survey could be disputed as the national environmental degradation by mostly Chinese miners fell under EMA.

“Our efforts as media to be watchdogs have been totally affected by EMA’s lack of response on time. This (takes) away the golden key award for openness that EMA got,” Muchetu said.
Regionally, parallel studies were conducted in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia.

Chitungwiza Municipality was adjudged as the most secretive institution. It did not respond to requests for information.

Chipinge Rural District Council, Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, Health and Child Care ministry, Mines and Mining Development ministry, Primary and Secondary Education ministry, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development ministry, Mutare City Council and the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council were among other organisations surveyed.