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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles


  • MMPZ statement: World Press Freedom Day 2013
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    May 03, 2013

    Media Monitoring 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.

    This year’s 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 the pending Constitution of Zimbabwe. MMPZ also recognises the unprecedented opportunities for free expression and participation opened up by the Internet and new media platforms.

    However, MMPZ 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.

    Similarly, issues 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 sector.

    MMPZ therefore 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.

    Any elections 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 expression.

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