Elita Chikwati and Millicent Mtombeni
Traditional media should contribute towards the realisation of goals and aspirations of the nation while at the same time being responsible in communicating the truth instead of competing with social media in the propagation of misinformation.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said this in Harare yesterday at the 25th anniversary of privately-owned weekly newspaper, Zimbabwe Independent.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Government welcomed constructive criticism from the media. “The backbone of any democracy is an independent, professional and responsible media. The media play a vital role in democratic societies, enabling the open exchange of information and opinions among ordinary citizens, businesses, citizen associations, political parties and governments.
“Free and open media systems give voice to citizens, truth test candidates and political parties during elections, inform policy debates in legislatures, investigate corruption, hold public officials accountable, enable democratic governance and facilitate more effective development,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa discouraged the media from exaggerating or scare-mongering just to sell more newspapers.
“Being responsible not only means telling the truth, but also abiding by the law and being honest in the way a journalist gathers information. If the press drifts into law-breaking, then it loses the respect of its readers and the nation,” she said.
There was need for the Government to invest in the software and hardware infrastructure of modern communications.
“That is why HE President ED Mnangagwa is pulling all stops to invest in every aspect of digital links. We need 5G cellular and beyond. We must ensure every Zimbabwean has access to gadgets like cellphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and set-top boxes.
“As the Second Republic, His Excellency, President ED Mnangagwa has said that Zimbabwe is open for business and as the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services we take direction from the President and we have said Zimbabwe is open for media business.”
The Government, she said, was working tirelessly to ensure pluralism and diversity in the media sector and creating an enabling environment for the media to thrive.
This included the repealing of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), replacing it with the Freedom of Information Act and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act and the licensing of six free to air television stations and six community radio stations. Several tertiary institutions were also licensed to operate campus radio stations.
Minister Mutsvangwa commended the Zimbabwe Independent for contributing to democratic processes and values, which President Mnangagwa and Government had sworn to uphold and committed to.
“To the management and staff at Zimbabwe Independent, today we celebrate your 25 years of journalistic excellence, cutting-edge journalism and innovation.”
She also applauded the media organisation for appointing Faith Zaba as Zimbabwe Independent’s first female editor and also the group’s first female editor.
AMH chairman Trevor Ncube said media houses should not be political but look at the bigger picture of what is important for Zimbabwe. “The nation must have a platform to engage in a robust manner with facts and truths to create a society that will be inherited by our children and grandchildren.
“The most important thing is to see a Zimbabwe that is stable and developed.