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Journalists Call for New Media Law in Zimbabwe

FILE - Zimbabweans listen to a radio for an announcement of election results in Umguza.
FILE - Zimbabweans listen to a radio for an announcement of election results in Umguza.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa says there is need for fresh media laws in Zimbabwe which support constitutional provisions guaranteeing media diversity, press freedom and freedom of expression.

MISA Zimbabwe Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya, whose organization held various activities on Saturday to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, says having media freedom guaranteed in the country’s constitution does not necessarily result in media freedom.

“We believe that the media can play a fundamental role in facilitating access to information and enhancing development but this can only if there is a law to promote and protect the media,” said Ngwenya.

The country’s theme this year is: The right to know, key to life. He said, “The reason why we are promoting this theme is because we believe that the media are currently not doing much. There is a lot they can do. But they can do that if they are allowed to do so. We know that the constitution at least guarantees press freedom but that is not enough.

“What we need is supportive legislation that would enhance and facilitate the enjoyment of that right otherwise we will just have a constitution that is merely used for decorating ourselves.”

Deputy Information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira says Zimbabweans should commemorate world press freedom day as press freedom is now enshrined in the country’s new constitution.

“Journalists in Zimbabwe have a lot to celebrate on World Press Freedom Day especially when they look at a new constitution which now has a particular reference to freedom of expression and freedom of the media, something that did not exist in the Lancaster House Constitution and something that did not exist on World Press Freedom last year.

The focus this year is on three inter-related themes: the media’s importance in development; the safety of journalists and the rule of law; and the sustainability and integrity of journalism.

An international conference will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 5-6 May.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO's General Conference. Since then, May 3, the anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

This year’s world theme is: Media freedom for a better future: Shaping the post-2015 development agenda.

It is an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, assess the state of press freedom throughout the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.