THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Proposed amendments to the constitution
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Weekly Media Update 2005-29
Monday August 1st – August 7th 2005

THE media’s professional ineptitude in tackling important issues that have a serious bearing on the constitutional rights of Zimbabweans manifested itself this week in their failure to thoroughly explore and bring to light the full implications of government’s proposed amendments to the constitution.

Except for the Zimbabwe Independent (5/8), none of the media fully informed their audiences of the details contained in the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No.17) Bill or carried an adequate analysis of the proposed changes.

Studio 7 (4/8), The Herald (5/8) and The Standard (7/8) merely restricted their coverage to a public hearing conducted by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to discuss the Bill.

These media simply quoted members of civic society raising reservations on Clause 16B, which erodes property rights and the citizenry’s right to seek recourse from the courts, and the proposed appointment system for members of the Senate.

A starkly more comprehensive assessment of the grave pitfalls of Clause 16B was only made by Alex Magaisa in the Independent. For example, Magaisa summed up the disastrous effects the proposed amendments would have on the country thus: "The confidence of investors will decline further while the credit rating of the country and businesses will be drastically reduced." Consequently, he warned Parliament to "think long and hard before passing this dangerous amendment into law for it is a mortal danger to the economy".

In spite of this however, none of the media ventured into discussing other proposed undemocratic amendments that seek to further curtail Zimbabweans’ rights to freedom of movement, their rights to directly participate in the governance of the country, or to choose representatives of their choice by proposals that will introduce stringent qualifications for aspiring legislators.

The media’s failure to expose these latest attempts to systematically annihilate yet another swathe of fundamental constitutional rights disguised as a Bill to introduce a Senate is a travesty of journalism that exposes how effectively repressive media laws have emasculated the journalistic profession in Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the week witnessed the continued harassment of dissenting voices by the police and alleged ZANU PF supporters. Studio 7 (4/8) reported that National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku was arrested outside Parliament together with two other individuals, who included a member of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, on allegations that they planned to stage a demonstration against the proposed constitutional amendments.

The station (2/8) also reported that about 100 families in Manicaland were allegedly being denied food by the Grain Marketing Board because they supported the opposition.

In another incident, the station reported (3/8) that ZANU PF supporters in Bubi district had allegedly attacked MDC MP Edward Mukhosi and other party officials, including the opposition’s local candidate for the upcoming council by-elections. However, the station compromised its reports by failing to balance the victims’ accounts with official comments, or those accused of perpetrating such abuses. Neither did it provide evidence that it had sought their side of the story.

The government media ignored these issues.

Visit the MMPZ fact sheet

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.