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Media Practitioners Reject State-Run Media Council

Media practitioners have raised ethical questions over the establishment of a state-run media council set up in terms of some provisions of the feared Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) saying it will fail to address media concerns due to its links with the government.

Independent practitioners, who are reported to have refused to be part of the council, said Friday they won’t align themselves with a body established under a repressive law.

Executive director Takura Zhangazha of the Voluntary Media Council Zimbabwe (VMCZ) said private media will not join a body that oppresses practitioners.

Zhangazha said they did not attend the launch Thursday or join teh council because it was set up by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) which is believed to be an arm of the government.

In a statement, the VMCZ said: "While recognizing the statutory obligations of the ZMC, the move to establish a statutory council is undemocractic and not in the best interest of the media".

Commissioner Matthew Takaona of the ZMC told VOA it had hoped to include the independent media in the council in order to give them a platform for public engagement.

"Unfortunately some people continue to stay in this boycott type of politics, anything that they don't like they just boycott ... I would think at some stage people must stop this kind of thing and join us in order to make positive contributions one way or another," said Takaona.

The 13-member council is chaired by veteran journalist Henry Muradzikwa and some of the councillors are Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation chief executive Happson Muchechetere, Zimbabwe Newspapers Group chief executive Justin Mutasa, the Worker editor Ben Madzimure and representatives of various interest groups.

Most private media practititoners are members of the VMCZ, an independent entity.

The media council chairman Muradzikwa said members would deal with compliants against the media in a fair and transparent manner.
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