Let journalists in Zimbabwe do their job

via Let journos do their job | The Zimbabwean 07.05.14 by Editor

It is clear that politicians, the police and business people are using the criminal defamation law to fix journalists. Far too often we see media practitioners being arrested for reporting about particular individuals who want to keep their dark secrets hidden from public view.

The ultimate victims of this law are truth, knowledge and development.

As a media house, we are acutely averse to this tendency to victimise journalists for doing what is fundamentally their duty—acting as an information conduit to make this world a better place. That is why we are calling on Zimbabweans to work collectively and urgently to repeal the notorious criminal defamation statute from our books.

We celebrated when the new constitution, which outlaws the infamous law, was adopted last year. What worries us, however, is that, as in the case of hundreds other laws that need to be aligned to the new constitution, criminal defamation is still on the statute books.

Not only that, selfish individuals with a lot to hide and warped egos to protect are still using it to harass and intimidate journalists.

The responsibility to get rid of this medieval piece of legislation lies with us all, but journalists and lawmakers must take the lead. It is heartening that the Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (Zinef) has resolved to fight criminal law in the courts. But making a resolution is one thing. Following up with action is another. Zinef must move fast and take the matter to court with the urgency that it requires.

There is always strength in numbers, so Zinef must work together with other media associations like Misa-Zimbabwe, the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists to ensure that the law goes and meaningful media reform is adopted.

Of course, the legislature is crucial to law reform, so media collaborators must adopt mature and aggressive lobbies to ensure that criminal defamation is taken before Parliament. It is vital to convince our MPs about the wrongness of this law and that takes more than just making press statements.

The MPs need to be engaged in a systematic and sustained manner. In addition, media organisations must take advantage of the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry’s re-engagement overtures to ensure that criminal defamation is removed and adverse legislation like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) is changed to align with the provisions on freedom of expression and the media in the new constitution.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 6
  • comment-avatar
    apolitical 7 years ago

    Cmiminal Defamation needs to be maintained to protect the public from our unethical media.
    There is absolutely no grounds for any journalist to be given preferential treatment to any other citizen. The public prosecutors office is to blame as there are not enough prosecutions and the fines are too lenient to promote a deterrent.
    They are so crooked and dishonest they want to be above the law.
    We the public need protection from them, they are the worst media ethics in the world.
    We are entitle d to truth in the news media that we pay for and that the laws guarantee that.
    More journalists need to be prosecuted and the public prosecutor needs to monitor the media until such time as journalists become responsible and honest.

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    Justice 7 years ago

    Apol…No-one is interested in your propaganda! Spare us please.

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      Reads as, Jail all journalists who do not report what we want. We will accept no criticism of government, Police, civil service.

      What a great world you want to live in…

      A Political Arse!!!!

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    Ivor Payne 7 years ago

    Half the problem lies with the courts. Arrest without warrant should be used as a last resort. There are other means of bringing people to court, such as summonses. The courts should insist that the police follow the law in this regard. They do not. They simply approve arrests regardless of the fact that a summons or arrest with warrant should have been used. The matter is even more reprehensible in the case of Criminal Defamation. The police are only permitted to arrest people without warrant for First Schedule offences. Criminal Defamation is specifically EXCLUDED from the First Schedule of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Accordingly, a magistrate should order the release of any person brought before him or her who has been arrested without warrant for Criminal Defamation. They do not. Why not?

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    Petal 7 years ago

    Heavens above where is the Media Institute of Southern Africa surely they are entitled to intervene

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    Petal 7 years ago

    these african leaders want to be like GODS they are not GODS someone needs to tell them -they want everyone to WORSHIP and KISS the FLOOR they WALK on