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World Press Freedom Day
May 03, 2011
World Press Freedom Day (WFPD) commemorations on 3 May 2011 are
indeed of great significance as they come on the backdrop of the
20th anniversary of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration.
is of great importance especially for the Media Institute of Southern
Africa (MISA) and more so for MISA-Zimbabwe as it provides the foundational
mission and vision statements that guide the organisation's
media freedom and freedom of expression lobby and advocacy activities.
The 2011 WFPD
international theme: 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers,
directly relates to the fast growing media phenomena of information
technologies not only in Africa but the world over.
the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe
(POTRAZ), Zimbabwe has a total of 9.1 million mobile phone users
but that the figure was projected to decrease by about 34% following
the requirement for all subscribers to register their lines.
usage and demand for advanced information technologies undoubtedly
adds value to the exercise of the fundamental right to freedom of
expression and citizens' right to access information.
therefore urges the government to complete its revision of the proposed
ICT Bill as a matter of urgency given the potential of the ICT sector
in entrenching democracy and employment creation.
however, notes with great concern that 10 years after the crafting
of the African Charter on Broadcasting (ACB) and enactment of the
Services Act (BSA), Zimbabwe is still far from fulfilling the
three-tier broadcasting system as envisaged under the Charter. The
three-tier system comprises public broadcasting, private commercial
broadcasting and establishment of community radio stations.
It is against
this background that MISA-Zimbabwe came up with its 2011 WFPD theme:
Broadcasting Reforms on the Agenda: Free the Airwaves Now! The theme
was deliberately crafted to embrace the milestone significances
of this year's commemorations.
this year marks the 10th anniversary of the coming into being of
the 2001 African Charter on Broadcasting as intertwined with the
enactment of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) in the same year.
A majority of
the 14-member states of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) now boast of a plethora of privately owned broadcasting stations
and community radio stations. Zimbabwe thus remains stagnated as
a monolithic pariah state whose airwaves continue to be monopolised
by the state controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
While the Zimbabwe
Media Commission (ZMC) has taken commendable steps towards fulfilling
the obligations of the Windhoek Declaration for a diversified, pluralistic
and independent media environment by licensing more than 20 media
houses in the print sector, the broadcasting media environment remains
restricted and constricted.
therefore urges the inclusive government to fulfil its pledges and
commitments to undertake comprehensive media reforms that will allow
new private players into the broadcasting sector as mandated in
terms of the GPA
Amendment No 19 of 2009.
This can be
achieved in the immediate short-term through:
- Urgent reconstitution
of Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and licensing of aspiring
private broadcasters and community radio stations as an interim
measure to free the airwaves ahead of elections.
the existence and potential of Community Radio Initiatives (CRIs)
spread throughout the country especially Radio
Dialogue FM in Bulawayo and Community
Radio Harare (CORAH), which are fully equipped and ready to
- Urgent reconstitution
of the ZBC governance board to ensure the broadcaster fulfills
its public service mandate and reflects all shades of Zimbabwean
and adequate resourcing of the Mass Media Trust to insulate Zimpapers
from political interference.
- Urgent repeal
or extensive amendment of laws that impinge on freedom of expression
and media freedom, and citizens' right to access to information
Law (Codification and Reform) Act and Interception
of Communications Act.
- Arrests and
prosecution of any individuals implicated in any forms of extra-legal
media freedom violations in order to curb wanton harassment of
media practitioners and guarantee the safety and security in the
conduct of their lawful and professional duties.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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