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MMPZ statement: World Press Freedom Day 2013
The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
May 03, 2013
Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) joins Zimbabwe and the rest of the world
in commemorating World Press Freedom Day, which is celebrated every
year on May 3rd.
theme “Safe to speak: Securing Freedom of Expression In All
Media” encompasses the fundamental right of freedom of expression,
which MMPZ believes is a cornerstone for the observance of all other
freedoms. In this regard, we acknowledge the positive developments
in assuring the right to free expression and media freedom under
Constitution of Zimbabwe. MMPZ also recognises the unprecedented
opportunities for free expression and participation opened up by
the Internet and new media platforms.
notes with concern that this year’s theme has been adopted
in a hostile operating environment in which journalists, civic society
organisations and other human rights defenders in Zimbabwe continue
to face threats, harassment and arbitrary detentions ahead of a
key national process - the harmonised elections.
of safety for both journalists and citizens on new media platforms
also remain a concern due to the existence of certain laws that
infringe on privacy and restrict free expression on such platforms.
Such legislation clearly undermines any efforts to promote a safe
and enabling environment for journalists and citizens to freely
express themselves and perform their work without undue interference.
MMPZ also notes
with regret the inclusive government’s failure to effect meaningful
media reform during its tenure. The public broadcaster, ZBC, and
the state-controlled papers continue to operate in a partisan manner,
spewing hate messages and propaganda against those perceived to
be a threat to certain narrow political interests. This represents
particularly destructive, unprofessional and divisive conduct as
the country heads for elections. In addition, Zimbabweans, especially
those in marginalised communities, largely continue to be deprived
of access to credible information due to the limited number and
reach of licensed information channels, especially in the broadcast
urges the Government of Zimbabwe to honour its obligations under
the pending new Constitutional framework and the Regional and International
treaties it has ratified, to implement extensive media reforms as
a matter of urgency, uphold the safety of journalists and promote
free expression in all media, including social media platforms.
The new Constitution will require that several repressive media
laws, not least the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and the Criminal
Law Codification (and Reform) Act should, at the very least,
be amended to conform to the clear intentions of the new Constitution.
These reforms will also require the reformation of all state media
regulatory authorities, such as the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe,
the Zimbabwe Media Commission, as well as the boards of ZBC and
the state-owned newspapers.
conducted in the present hostile media environment run the risk
of being discredited as a result of the partisan and destructive
performance of these so-called news outlets and the repressive laws
that restrict and control Zimbabweans’ rights to freedom of
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