Maz queries media Bill

THE Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (Maz).

THE Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (Maz) says the contents in the newly gazetted Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) Amendment Bill were at variance with what stakeholders agreed to during consultative meetings between government and media stakeholders.

In a statement, Maz said the ZMC Amendment Bill seeks to expand the Media Commission’s mandate to include provisions that will smuggle in oppressive clauses that were in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).

Aippa has since been repealed and replaced with the Freedom of Information Act.

“These functions include the registration of mass media services, accreditation of journalists and administration of a media fund. On the other hand, the Media Practitioners Bill will provide parameters for media co-regulation through delegating the powers of the ZMC to ‘professional bodies’ and the drafting of a Code of Ethics by each professional body”, the Maz statement read.

“While acknowledging that the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ministry is pursuing the noble cause to sustain momentum around reforming media laws, Maz is concerned that the announced principles, especially as with regards to the Media Practitioners Bill deviates from the position agreed between media industry actors and government.

“The meeting resolved to professionalise the media sector in a gender inclusive manner. However, the gazetted principles do not represent what was agreed upon. The gazetted principles are thus flawed in that instead of driving the industry towards standardising the quality of journalism and professionalising the sector, the principles further polarise and divide the sector,” MAZ said.

“It must be placed on record that the proposals by the government to delegate the powers and functions of the ZMC to undefined professional bodies are not new. Earlier attempts to have multiple so-called professional bodies regulate the media were resisted by media stakeholders with Parliament vehemently debating the provisions resulting in their withdrawal from the ZMC Act.”

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