UNESCO Harare Engages Zimbabwe Parliament on Media Democratisation
UNESCO Harare engages Zimbabwe parliament on media democratization ahead of planned media reform.
On 21 and 22 July 2009 the UNESCO office in Harare held a two-day capacity development workshop at the Kadoma Hotel and Conference Centre with the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies to enhance their knowledge on media freedom and independence. The workshop also took stock of the prevailing media structure and laws in the country.
Recognizing the key role of Parliament in the formulation and elaboration of democratic laws, the workshop critically examined the media landscape in Zimbabwe. Presentations and discussions at the workshop centred around issues such as essentials of a media freedom and freedom of expression; the pursuit of a free, independent, pluralistic, diverse and open media environment; and self regulation among others.
Contentious media laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), the Broadcast Services Act (BSA), Interception of Communications Act, which the government has been accused of using to muzzle and criminalise journalism, also came under scrutiny.
The workshop also provided an opportunity for the executive to interface with parliament as there were representatives from both sides. Total of thirty-one people participated in the workshop.
In acknowledging the critical role played by the media in nation building the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies at the workshop made an undertaking to:
- Engage the executive (government), media houses and journalists to get input necessary for media reform
- Conduct countrywide consultations for public contributions on media reform
- Work towards the creation of a plural media environment
- Ensure contested media laws are either amended or repealed as deemed appropriate
- Support the efforts of journalists, through the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, in self regulation by advocating for a regulatory framework with some guarantees
- Engage editors in relation to hate language as well as in the role of their media houses in national healing and nation building
- Advocate for and support legislation that allows foreign investment in the media industry
- Promote and support the printing of local newsletters and pamphlets in local languages in order to promote inclusive societies through universal access to information.