By Daniel Chigundu
Government says it is in the process of aligning media laws with the constitution as well as reviewing some laws that impede the smooth operation of the media.
The media is Zimbabwe is operating under harsh conditions which have seen various journalists being arrested for stories they would have written and also failing to access information from public institutions.
Speaking at the launch of the European Union and Norwegian government funded Media and Elections Program, Acting Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Simon Khaya-Moyo said work is already under way to align the laws.
“At policy level, the Ministry of Information is in the process of aligning the two pieces of media legislation that fall within its purview that is the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) with the constitution, they must be aligned with the constitution and we are working expeditiously to ensure this is accomplished.
“The ministry is also alive to the fact that there are other laws that affect the media and continues to engage with other government stakeholders to ensure that we create a more favourable working environment for the media,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion Head of European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Philippe Van Damme said if the media is to play its role of reinforcing accountability then the stringent laws must be address as matter of urgent.
“If we want the media to full play their role of informing public debate and reinforcing scrutiny and accountability of electoral and democratic processes, the issues will need to be addressed, not only through the legal framework, but also in the way the laws are effectively applied.
“Zimbabwe was one of the first countries to introduce legislation on access to information-the AIPPA Act, but unfortunately, as you all know, AIPPA is better in prohibiting access to information than in facilitating it,” he said.
Ambassador Van Damme added that the media is also constrained in its watchdog role by harsh economic conditions and general lack of professional skills and deontological standards.
He said the media is also constrained by threats from politicians or other wealthy and/or well-connected individuals under the investigations.-