Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
New Constitution-making process - Index of articles
paper on media provisions in the draft constitution
Media Alliance of Zimbabwe
October 16, 2012
The Media Alliance
of Zimbabwe welcomes provisions in the Draft
Constitution of Zimbabwe produced on 18 July 2012 which contains
an express guarantee on freedom of expression, which includes freedom
of the media, artistic expression and academic freedom, as well
as guaranteeing the right to access information, in compliance with
notes several areas of concern that should be amended to adequately
guarantee freedom of expression and access to information.
MAZ is concerned
by the entrenchment of "state-owned" media in Section
4.18(4). Although the draft protects the independence and impartiality
of the state-owned media, the best way forward would be to transform
all state-owned media into public media that are run by independent
boards and are accountable to the public through Parliament.
The appointment procedure for board members should be democratic
and fully transparent, and allow for public input. In light of this,
the Constitution should clearly state and define "public media",
as opposed to "state media".
fall directly under the control of state institutions, such as the
Ministry of Information and cannot be expected to be fair, balanced
and impartial. Public media on the other hand, are independent institutions
established to work in the public interest in line with regional
and international standards and principles contained in documents,
such as the "Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression
in Africa" adopted by the AU Commission on Human and People's
Rights in 2002. Zimbabwe's national broadcaster, ZBC, is an
example of a public media institution that has been hijacked by
the state for narrow partisan political purposes.
MAZ is also
concerned by the entrenchment of statutory regulation of the media
through the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), created by Section
12.17 of the draft Constitution.
This section reinforces the disciplinary powers of the ZMC to "take
or recommend disciplinary action against journalists and other persons
employed in the press and other media of communication who are found
to have breached any law or any code of conduct applicable to them".
This provision contradicts a clause guaranteeing media freedom where
it refers to the fact that government shall not control or interfere
with any media activity, because it allows for continued statutory
interference in the freedom of the media. The existence of a statutory
"disciplinary" body for the media runs counter to the
Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. If
a media institution breaks an existing law, there is no need for
a Commission to usurp the perfectly adequate justice system to enforce
any penalties associated with the breach of that law.
that codes of conduct should be a matter for the media community
to establish and to enforce - not a statuory commission. This
self-regulation, supervised by an independent media council established
by the media community, should be guaranteed
in the new Constitution as it protects freedom of expression
and promotes independent and professional journalism.
MAZ also notes
that although access to public information held by the state is
specifically guaranteed, it does not protect against subsequent
legislation that obstructs the public's right to access contemporary
information. For example, the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) allegedly
guarantees the public's right to information but then takes
the right away by introducing numerous arbitrary and discretionary
conditions that have the effect of depriving the public of their
right to information. This section should contain a clause specifically
guaranteeing the public's right to access public information
the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe
The Media Alliance
of Zimbabwe is a partnership of media advocacy and representative
groups in Zimbabwe working towards defending freedom of expression
and freedom of the media. Since its formation, MAZ has been advocating
for media law and policy reform, to ensure a free, fair, independent
and pluralistic media.
Members of the
Media Alliance of Zimbabwe are:
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe Chapter
Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
Union of Journalists (ZUJ)
Editors' Forum (ZINEF)
of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ)
Community Publishing Development Trust (ACPDT)
the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe fact
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.