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Media reforms key ahead of any electoral processes
in Zimbabwe Coalition
May 04, 2011
The media in
every society plate the fundamental roles of providing information,
providing a platform for public discussion, reflecting the goals
and values of the society and monitoring government activities.
The absence of a free and vibrant media has a negative impact on
key democratic processes including elections. As the world commemorates
World Press Freedom Day, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition calls upon
the iclusive government to ensure that media reforms take place
before the holding of any election to allow the electorate an opportunity
to make informed decisions.
since the 1980's been characterized by a partisan public media,
used as a ZANU PF mouthpiece and platform for denigrating perceived
opponents while the private media has operated under stringent laws
and policies as well as constant victimisation and threats. Despite
the coming in of an inclusive government in 2009, the media environment
remains highly tilted in favour of ZANU PF while the victimisation
of media practitioners remains a major hindrance to the full enjoyment
of the right to information.
It is well understood
that the late delivery stage of the current transition will be an
election. While the Zimbabwe Media Commission licensed new players
in the media industry, the operating environment remains highly
restrictive and does not promote democratic elections. The public
media has already begun campaigning for ZANU PF while the recent
raiding of the privately owned NewsDay points to high levels of
intolerance towards private media players.
Article 17 of
the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which
states that state parties to the charter should 'Ensure fair
and equitable access by contesting parties and candidates to state
controlled media during elections'. It is evident that should
the current trend continue and should elections take place, the
ZANU PF controlled public media will initiate a total media blackout
on opposition parties, giving much airplay to ZANU PF.
Ahead of any
election, The Coalition demands that the inclusive government, as
part of their Roadmap to Elections, particularly ZANU PF which seems
to be in control of the media should work on:
the airwaves and allowing for the proliferation of new media players
particularly in the broadcasting sector.
the public media to operate freely and in the Public Interest,
reflecting the different shades of Zimbabwean public opinion.
The Coalition demands that both the national broadcaster and public
newspapers be managed by professional journalists who protect
the interests of the general public without bias and pursuing
and condemning all attacks on and intimidation of the private
media by both state security agents and political party activists
laws which hinder full and free operation of the media including
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the
and Security Act (POSA), among other laws which are mimical
to free media and full enjoyment of information rights.
- The Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) must be reconstituted urgently and
licensing of aspiring community and commercial broadcasters begins
as an interim measure to open up the airwaves ahead of elections.
Broadcasting Corporation, and the print media, must afford all political
parties and independent candidates contesting an election free access
to their broadcasting services in line with all the robust provisions
of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Media Coverage of Elections)
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