By Robert Tapfumaneyi
INFORMATION and Publicity Minister Monica Mutsvangwa says President Emmerson Mnangagwa was prepared to dump the old, repressive habits of his predecessors and has urged media stakeholders to help legislators cleanse statutes that inhibit the full enjoyment of freedom of expression amomg citizens.
Officially opening the media stakeholder’s consultative workshop on the alignment of media laws to the Constitution of Zimbabwe in Harare Friday, Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe’s new economic hopes could only be achieved by freely thinking national actors.
“This is our order of the day today, we must dispense with the mind-set that begot AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and POSA (Public Order Security Act),” Mutsvangwa said.
“They are a throwback to the epoch of mind and body control by power hungry cliques from both the colonial and post-colonial era.
“The new dispensation is dead set to undo that. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is for a new, open media regime that takes full advantage of Zimbabwe’s hard won political freedom in the digital communications era and the internet.
“Technology continues to furnish ever new channels of interaction. The centre. which is government, has to keep apace so that it narrows and dispenses with all aspects of the digital divide.”
The laws that have shaped and have been regulating the industry include the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Commercialisation Act of 2001 that unbundled the national broadcaster, AIPPA that is predominantly aimed at the print media and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) which regulates electronic media.
“If there is anything in these laws that you think is not progressive, this is the time to say it out so we make amends,” she said.
“More importantly, in 2013 Zimbabwe adopted a new constitution. It is important that we study the constitution and our laws and ensure that there is no law in our sector which is not in harmony with the supreme law of the land.
“To that end, the Ministry in 2014 commissioned an Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) that, among other things, sought to review the state of the media and suggest the best way to move the sector forward.
“The findings and recommendations of that inquiry are also at our disposal to guide us as we collectively see fit.”
Mutsvangwa also said President Mnangagwa was doing all he could to discard the repressive habits of the old order under former President Robert Mugabe and those of the predecessor colonial regime under Ian Smith.
“As we sit here, he is sparing no effort to reach out to all Zimbabweans as he seeks to rule through inclusiveness,” she said.
“He is bending backwards to reach out to his rivals unhindered by the noise of detractors. He has set his eyes firmly on internal peace and is determined to walk that talk.”