Government renews fight with media, ‘smuggles AIPPA’ back into Zimbabwe statutes

HARARE – Battle lines have been drawn between government and the country’s broader media sector after Zimbabwean authorities adamantly dumped issues agreed during wide consultations with stakeholders and went on to draft its own in the Media Practitioners Bill and ZMC Amendment Bill.

Journalist representative groups and media practitioners coalescing under the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) disowned the Cabinet principles on the Media Practitioners Bill recently published.

This followed a Friday meeting in Harare by the MAZ coordinating and governing council to consider developments in the media sector and strategic interventions that promote freedom of expression in Zimbabwe.

Members to the network include the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe), Media Monitors, the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINEF), the Gender and Media Connect (GMC), Enhancing Community Voices (ECV), the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) and the Media Center, all of whom were represented at the governing council meeting.

Of the principles, the media representatives found that government had ignored their input and instead, surreptitiously resurrected contentious issues which were contained in the highly controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which has since been repealed.

In a MAZ communique released Monday, media stakeholders rejected the principles agreed by government for falling far short of positions agreed by the uncomfortable partners.

“While sustaining dialogue with government through the Ministry of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services on the co-regulation of the media, the Council resolved to resist and reject the publicised Cabinet principles on the Media Practitioners Bill and ZMC Amendment Bill on the basis that (a) the principles of accreditation and registration is not hinged on improving the policy on the same but to merely retain provisions under AIPPA.

“The principles under the Media Practitioners Bill are not premised on co-regulation of the media but bent on further dividing and polarizing the media.

“The principles are a deviation from what the industry representatives agreed with the Ministry of Information, legislators and the Commission representatives at meeting in Kadoma held on the 11th and 12th of August 2022.”

Government and the Zimbabwe media agreed on media co-regulation as a compromise position after both sides had insisted on neither of them taking full charge of governing the affairs of the media.

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