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  • Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) presses Parliament on media self-regulation
    Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ)
    July 31, 2009

    The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) has called on the Zimbabwe Parliament to recognise and support the journalists' initiative to self-regulate and transform into a professional industry through its structures.

    The VMCZ Research and Information Officer, Hilton Zvidzayi, accompanied by Chris Mhike, VMCZ Councillor, gave a background to the principles and notion of self-regulation when they met members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies. He described as the contemporary democratic route progressive nations are adopting.

    "Media self-regulation is based on the notion that media must develop internal structures of responsibility and accountability that address society's concerns on its operations. Through VMCZ, journalists in Zimbabwe are saying we want to be professional and ethical while opening ourselves to direct criticism and positive contribution from consumers of our products," said Zvidzayi.

    VMCZ was established to serve as a mediator between media and the public and has a complaints mechanism through which members of the public can raise complaints against newspapers and broadcasting stations.

    "Civil laws work for the rich, powerful and corrupt only while the man in the street suffers in his backyard from media excesses. Alternatively, VMCZ offers a complaints system that is free of charge, fast and informal. We are focussed on restoring damaged reputations not financial gain.

    "A state regulated media looks bad while laws create saints. State regulation of the media has been applied selectively and led to arrests, harassment of journalists and closure of newspapers," added Zvidzayi.

    He briefed the Parliamentary Committee on the consultations held with stakeholders prior to the formation of VMCZ where journalists, civic society, business representatives, political parties and government were engaged. All stakeholders including political parties in the inclusive government and state media were agreeable to media self-regulation until its formation when state media pulled out and government came up with the idea of a Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).

    Honourable Seiso Moyo (MP) called on the VMCZ to recommend a transitional set-up for co-existence with ZMC because government cannot backtrack on its obligations to the GPA where establishment of the state commission is mentioned.

    In response, Chris Mhike said ZMC can work to promote press freedom and ensure that constitutional rights of the media are upheld. Other functions such as adjudication of complaints and registration of media practitioners can be in left to VMCZ that already has a complaints mechanism and the necessary requirements in place.

    Hon. Gift Chimanikire, Chairperson of the Committee, pledged his committee's support for media self-regulation through the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe and said change would be seen in the media industry.

    The meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee is part of VMCZ's lobbying and advocacy strategy to reach out to all relevant stakeholders in Zimbabwe to promote media self-regulation.

    Visit the VMCZ fact sheet

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