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  • Media freedom & access to information should be constitutional rights
    Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association
    May 07, 2010

    At a time when residents are faced with a restrictive media environment and the ongoing constitutional reform process, this year's World Press Freedom Day ran under the theme Media Freedom & Access to Information should be Constitutional Rights! This is the opportune time to call for provisions that guarantee media freedom and the residents' right to information access. Media freedom is fundamentally inseparable from the universal rights to freedom of expression, assembly, association and citizens' right to access information. The Media plays a pivotal role by assisting the public to perform an effective watchdog role through exposure of misconduct within public and private sectors. An efficient media holds both public and private bodies accountable and helps fight corruption. For the good of the residents, a free media will play a crucial role in guaranteeing that policies on participatory poverty reduction are formulated. The reduction of poverty in different communities lies in a free media that prioritises public interest. Through a free media, residents can foster respect for human rights. This can include socio-economic rights such as the right to clean water, adequate housing and health care. These are some of the rights that the Zimbabwean government seems to take for granted. There is need for media that will be educating, informing and ensuring free flow of information and ideas without which residents cannot make informed decisions necessary for obtaining democracy.

    The Global Political Agreement and the constitutional mandate of the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission guarantee media reforms and it is about time residents saw the benefits of these freedoms.

    Misconduct of the uniformed forces

    Bulawayo residents have expressed displeasure over the performance of the police force. The decay of standards has made residents lose confidence in the police and the law enforcement system. The conduct of the police force is unlike that of the yesteryears when local police officers would be invited to carry out peace keeping missions in countries like Kosovo the then Yugoslavia and Cuba. The decay which has permeated the entire system has led to a general mistrust in the force as residents feel that the institution can no longer cater for or guarantee their safety amid the growing specter of crime in the country and an inherent maladministration in the institution. The institution needs to go through a reform, start upholding the law and see to it that members of the public adhere to the laws. The police force has not gone through a sincere reform if any, enough for them to gain the trust of the populace. The police force has become largely reliant on tip-offs at the same time most of them have been caught up in soliciting bribes from members of the public caught in the wrong side of the law. Residents have attributed the growth of the crime rate to these uniformed forces that are worryingly at ease and not perturbed by growing crime. Such factors reflect a conflict of interest. It shows that what you have or who you are determines whether you are guilty or innocent.

    Residents to watch World Cup from Trade Fair

    Soccer fans based in Bulawayo will this year get the opportunity to watch the FIFA 2010 World Cup from a big screen at the Trade Fair grounds. The screen is said to have a length measuring up to 10 meters and a 6 meter width. The open air show of the live games has been made possible by the Bulawayo Health Studio in a bid to bring the historic event to the convenience of the general public. The FIFA 2010 World Cup games will be shown live from 10 June to 11 July 2010. Soccer fans that cannot afford to watch the games live from South Africa will get the opportunity to watch them on the big screen and also get the comfort of being at home. The atmosphere created by the big screen and the presence of other spectators will make the World Cup memorable even to those that did not watch it from the host country. The Organising Director of the Bulawayo Health Studio, Jonathan Kaliyati, said that they also intend on showing the games at the Barbour Fields stadium if the city council approves the proposal.

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