Draft Zimbabwe Media Practitioners Bill under scrutiny

By ZBC Reporter

THE process of refining the Media Practitioners Bill is underway in Kadoma, where stakeholders in the media sector have been roped in for their input on the draft document.

Several media regulatory bodies, practitioners, law makers, academics and legal experts are part of the team set-up to refine the Bill before it is presented for debate in Parliament by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services.

The proposed bill comes on the back of three new pieces of legislation which have been passed by the Second Republic as it walks the talk on media reforms.

While officially opening the write-shop on the draft bill in Kadoma this Wednesday, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said the converging of minds is meant to close all legal gaps to ensure the crafting of a law that speaks to the needs of the media industry.

“This workshop buttresses efforts by the Second Republic in re-aligning the legal and regulatory framework to the provisions of the Constitution. The Second Republic believes in engagement and unity of purpose. It is my fervent hope that we will work together during this process and come up with a law that speaks to the needs of Zimbabwe’s media sector and its practitioners,” said the minister.

She also gave insight into the principles enshrined in the bill, adding that the repressive era of the repealed AIPPA is gone for good.

“The bill will embrace principles of co-regulation. The draft bill will encompass registration of media houses, accreditation of journalists and provide a framework for disciplining practitioners who would have breached the code of conduct available to them.”

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Nick Mangwana said the Media Practitioners Bill will address some elements that were contentious during the formulation of the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act.

“We are here because when we were doing the ZMC Bill, we realised there were some certain points of departure that needed to be addressed.”

Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Mary Mliswa lauded the information ministry for implementing the media reform agenda.

“We applaud the work you are doing in bringing media diversity and pluralism through the media reform agenda which is the Hallmark of the 2nd Republic.”

Media practitioners welcomed the consultative process as a step in the right direction.

“The draft bill now recognises to say the industry can co-regulate itself and there is also progression around standardisation of journalism training and delegation of the powers of the Zimabwe Media Commission as per the Constitution,” said Nigel Nyamutumbu, coordinator of Media Alliance of Zimbabwe.

“While in other sectors players would fight the bill after it would have already been drafted, the case is different for us as we have an opportunity to deliberate on the draft,” said Thabani Moyo, a media practitioner.

The Second Republic’s media reform agenda has been exemplified by the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which was deemed draconian.