The Information and Media Panel of Inquiry yesterday submitted its report to Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, with several recommendations aimed at improving media operations in Zimbabwe. Receiving the report, Prof Moyo said although he was yet to read the report, he was happy that the panel produced the report even under difficult circumstances.
“We do appreciate the self evident fact that you have worked very hard . . . we are aware of the many challenges that you encountered,” he said.
Prof Moyo said inasmuch as the report might be useful in terms of policy formulation, it was also important to the media industry and the generality of Zimbabweans.
He said given the diverse composition of the panel, he was hopeful that the report was a well thought, researched document.
“We indicated in the beginning that the issues summarised by terms of reference speak not only to the legislative questions, which are a responsibility of Parliament but also to policy issues which are a responsibility of Government and in that regard we accept that its over to us,” he said.
“However, the terms of reference also speak to the sector or the industry and the sector is not only represented in the composition of the panel, but should be a key beneficiary in terms of studying the report and looking at the recommendations.
“Issues of practice are really in the hands of the sector so we will be very keen to see how the sector responds.”
In his address, IMPI chairman Geoffrey Nyarota, said they had come up with several recommendations that could help to improve media operations.
Some of the recommendations are related to ethics, community and public broadcasting among others.
“With regard to ethical practice of journalism, there is a general belief among Zimbabweans that standards of journalism in the country have gone down,” he said.
“Communities expressed this opinion repeatedly during our outreach meetings.”
Mr Nyarota said it was evident that issues relating to corruption, poor quality training and poor working conditions were impinging on the quality of media products.
He said it was important to establish a world class school of journalism with the minimum requirement being a first degree.
For the benefit of the already practising journalists, Nyarota said the transformation of existing media and journalism training college into a Journalism Training Academy was imperative.
He said there was also need to address issues of gender violence such as sexual harassment at the work place.
“Among other recommendations, the dignity and equal rights of men, women and children and marginalised groups as enshrined in the constitution must be upheld in the media and by the media,” he said.
“Media houses should ensure appropriate editorial policies for mainstreaming gender, as well as specialisation on reporting gender issues and marginalised groups.” Nyarota bemoaned the continued recurrent of polarisation in the media especially during the build up the Zanu-PF 6th National People’s Congress last year.
He said the media was divided between the so-called “Gamatox and Weevils” camps giving the public a torrid time to decipher the truth.
Nyarota said IMPI was ready to look into the matter if given another mandate but Prof Moyo said it was his hope that the panel dealt with the issue of polarisation in all its forms to avoid a different manifestation of the same problem in future.
IMPI was set by the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services in April last year to assess the state of the media in Zimbabwe and make recommendations.
The panel was supposed to complete its mandate in four months, but asked for an extension to come up with a comprehensive report.