Zimbabwe’s Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda, has annulled a ban of cellphone use by journalists in the press gallery, saying parliament standing rules and orders were silent on the use of electronic gadgets in the gallery.
Two weeks ago parliament security forced journalists to switch off their cellphones and banned their use in parliament prompting Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker, James Maridadi, to raise a compliant noting that the move violated freedom of expression and access to information as enshrined in the constitution.
Mudenda ruled that journalists should be allowed to use electronic gadgets, including cellphones in the press gallery and that parliamentary rules be amended to reflect the technological advancement in the news gathering process.
Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe national executive member and parliamentary reporter, Columbus Mavhunga, said the Speaker’s ruling was correct and that journalists should not have been banned from using the gadgets in the first place.
Another journalist Paidamoyo Muzulu welcomed the ruling but said action must be taken against those who violated journalists’ rights.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary general, Foster Dongozi, said the ruling was a victory for press freedom and would remove the stone-age mentality in state institutions where officials are refusing to accept the prevalence of new media.
He said it was timely and expressed hope that officials would move from analogue to digital thinking.
Meanwhile, about a hundred of the more than 600 former Mbada Diamonds workers who claim they were unfairly dismissed in August last year have camped at the company headquarters in the capital demanding their unpaid salaries and benefits.
The former workers, who are under police guard, have vowed to stay put until they are addressed by management, which had previously promised to pay them by February 30 and failed.
Company spokesperson George Manyaya could not be reached for comment.