FOREIGN Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo says the media plays a crucial role in highlighting and stimulating discussions on nation-building as it educates and shines light on vices such as corruption.
In a virtual address to the 2020 World Press Freedom Conference hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) yesterday, Dr Moyo said the Second Republic regards the media as an important arm of the State.
“In Zimbabwe, we regard the media as a very important arm, which wields tremendous power and influence. In other words, the safety of journalists is one of the fundamental human rights and freedoms that are enshrined in our supreme law, which guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the media for every person in the country,” said Dr Moyo.
Since the advent of the New Dispensation, media freedoms have flourished in Zimbabwe with Government recently licensing six television stations in a move that broke the monopoly of ZBC and ensured diversity and pluralism.
“The media plays a pertinent nation-building function of enlightening and educating the public on current developments, programmes and policies. It is also an important accountability enabler as it raises red flags on issues such as corruption or lack of access to services that might otherwise never be publicly debated or addressed, thereby stimulating Governments to take action on social policy.
“This explains why President Mnangagwa, right from the advent of the New Dispensation, declared Zero Tolerance for Corruption, which to date has seen two serving Cabinet Ministers and many other high profile personalities arrested and charged . . . Another milestone is the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act on 1st July 2020, which effectively repealed the Access to Information and Privacy Protection Act (AIPPA).
“The Freedom of Information Act provides journalists and the general citizenry access to information from public bodies, thus giving effect to Section 62 of our Constitution on Access to Information,” Dr Moyo said.
Over the past three years Government has undertaken several political, legal and media reforms to widen and entrench democracy, the contentious AIPPA was repealed with the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa saying the country has nothing to hide hence the opening of the media space.