HARARE – Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe has petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Attorney General Prince Machaya beseeching them to establish a legal and political environment conducive for a free press.
In a letter dated December 10, written by Misa-Zimbabwe chairperson Golden Maunganidze and copied to Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda, ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services; the press freedom group complained about the inordinate delay in implementing media reforms.
“While it is common cause that your esteemed taskforce has identified the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Services Act as key media laws among the bulk of laws that need to be aligned to the Constitution, this sadly remains a mere undertaking.
“The Misa-Zimbabwe, by copy of this letter, humbly seeks to draw your respected attention to our concern on the above referenced issue.
“Misa-Zimbabwe is of the considered view that these two pieces of legislation are in dire need or review on account of the following issues: Broadcasting Services Act (sections 4 and 10), provisions of the BSA, with reference to sections 4 and 10 in particular remain out of sync with the letter and spirit of the Constitution and require review on the following aspects among others: the appointment of members to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) should be consistent with the parity provided under the Constitution to ensure that women constitute at least half of the Baz appointees,” the letter says.
Maunganidze said there must be de-politicisation of appointment processes to the Baz.
This comes as Parliament has shortlisted 12 candidates that were interviewed in public on Friday in the Senate Chamber.
After the interviews, Parliament’s committee on Standing Rules and Orders will submit a list of the six top-rated candidates and the president must choose three, including at least one woman, to appoint to the Baz Board from this list.
“There is imperative need to ensure the de-politicisation of the appointment process in order to ensure that it becomes more democratic and transparent so as to guarantee the independence of Baz,” Maunganidze said.
“Further it shall also be necessary to check the powers of the minister under this Act as well as the ZBC Commercialisation Act with a view to ensure that the power cannot be arbitrarily wielded hence
preserving the autonomy of the Baz and ZBC as a State broadcaster in line with sections 61(3)(b) and 61(4)(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
He also said they government must establishment of an Independent Licensing Authority
“The name Baz should be replaced by the term Independence Licensing Authority if the government is to demonstrate any political or legislative will to ensure the autonomy of the Baz as per the Constitution of the land and other related regional and international instruments.
“Outside the mere changing of names and strengthening the present Baz, Misa-Zimbabwe also recommends that a new and truly independent broadcasting regulator be put in place in order confidence in the media and other relevant stakeholders,” Misa-Zimbabwe said.