BY STAFF REPORTER
GOVERNMENT has been urged to implement the Windhoek Declaration (1991) on promoting an independent and pluralistic media, as well as the 2013 Constitution which provides guidelines and guarantees to freedom of the Press.
This was said by Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chairperson Golden Maunganidze in his statement preceding the World Press Freedom Day which will be commemorated today under the universal theme Information as a Public Good.
Maunganidze said Misa would commemorate the event under the theme Information as a Public Good: In Pursuit of Section 62 on Access to Information of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“This comes in the wake of Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution, which now explicitly provides for the rights to access to information, freedom of expression and media freedom, among other progressive provisions under its Bill of Rights.”
He said while it was commendable that progressive laws like the Freedom of Information Act of 2020 were enacted in place of the widely discredited Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), as well as the commendable licensing of community radio stations, there were, however, some claw-back provisions in media laws passed by Parliament.
“One such law is the Cyber-security and Data Protection Bill. The Bill is strong on surveillance of citizens and weak on balancing cyber-security with the enjoyment of fundamental rights such as free expression online, privacy and protection of personal data.
“Any form of regulation of the internet should be aimed at creating safe online spaces for the exercise and enjoyment of rights as opposed to criminalisation of online communication under the guise of dealing with internet abuse,” he said.
Misa said the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act also has worrying provisions that do not advance the critical role played by a free and unfettered media as envisaged by the Windhoek Declaration. “Co-regulation of the media should not be an end in itself, but should be the catalyst to fostering a free, diverse and pluralistic media as envisaged by the Windhoek Declaration,” Maunganidze said.