Back to Index
Comment on media's handling of recent amendments to legislation
Excerpt from Weekly update 2003-23
June 09 - June 15, 2003
THE week saw
Parliament pass two laws that have a bearing on the free flow of
information; the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Amendment Bill and the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill.
Sadly, the private
media inexplicably remained silent on the proposed amendments to
these laws. It was only from the government-controlled media (ZBC,
11/6 and The Herald 12/6) that the public learnt of the developments.
In their reports,
ZBC and The Herald noted that the two Bills sailed through
"with no objections". However, they did
not adequately inform their audiences about the content of the amendments
or the debate surrounding the changes made to the original law.
Neither did they explain the effects of the amendments to the public’s
right to receive and impart information
(14/5) initially reported that the text of the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Amendment Bill had been altered following
the Parliamentary Legal Committee’s reservations "on
clauses 3,7, 10, 11, 19, 20, and 25". But the paper
did not state what exactly those clauses stipulated, save to say
the Bill "is aimed at improving and correcting certain
anomalies and errors that came to light since the law was promulgated
In its subsequent
report (23/5), the paper reported that the debate on the law had
been adjourned to June 10 "to give legislators time to
go through the new text of the Bill". Still, the report
generalized on the proposed amendments.
Up until the
passage of the Bill, this week, none of the media has made any attempt
to fully inform the public about the amendments. Neither have they
investigated the irregular passage of the AIPPA amendments, especially
the unusual withdrawal of the original amendment Bill and its replacement
by another one and the obscure role of the Parliamentary Legal Committee.
And where was the PLC’s report objecting to the seven clauses? The
whole process was devoid of transparency and the media did nothing
media paid lip service to the amendments to the Broadcasting Services
Act. Apart from Information Minister Jonathan Moyo’s hint in The
Herald (13/03) that the amendment would see community broadcasters
being granted licences of up to 10 years, the public is in the dark
on the actual amendments to the law.
MMPZ notes that
The Financial Gazette appears to have dropped the socio-political
context to its coverage of news since a new editorial team took
over, preferring to carry narrowly defined business and financial
news instead. Admittedly, the paper’s new owners have the right
to redirect its editorial focus to that of their choice. But this
should not mean the paper abdicates its responsibility to inform
its audiences of this vital context to the activities of Zimbabwean
society. It would be disappointing if the paper’s new publishers
assumed that readers of The Financial Gazette rely on other
publications for this important perspective of society because financial
and business activity are greatly influenced by political and social
developments. It is to be hoped that the paper’s editor-in-chief,
Sunsleey Chamunorwa, will fulfil the assurances he gave his readers
soon after he stepped in to fill the breach created by the exodus
of senior staff in May (22/5).
Visit the MMPZ
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.