Safety of journalists guaranteed: Paradza
Journalists’ safety will be closely watched during the forthcoming harmonised elections and Government will promptly investigate any action against journalists and support resulting prosecutions, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Kindness Paradza said yesterday.
In a speech read on his behalf by Chief Director in the Ministry Jonathan Gandari, during a media dialogue organised by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe on journalists’ safety during the elections, Cde Paradza said: “The Government of Zimbabwe will monitor closely on the state of Press freedom and the safety of journalists.
“Much of this work will be done by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, civic society and the Ministry. Once any violations on journalists are reported, Government will investigate such specific issues and prosecution will be supported.
“The Government, through its institutions and stakeholders, is holding capacity building training for journalists and the police.”
A number of media laws had been put in place to safeguard the safety and ensure the security of journalists in the conduct of their duties, and during the upcoming elections.
Section 61 of the country’s Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and media freedom, which freedom includes the protection and confidentiality of journalists’ sources of information.
Deputy Minister Paradza said this called for the need to come up with news articles that inform and educate the nation on the election cycle before, during and after the harmonised elections.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission Act mandates the media commission to “investigate or inquire into any action or on the part of any person that constitutes, or is likely to result in, a violation of any rights protected under section 61 of the Constitution”.
At policy level, the Government has made tremendous progress in realigning the legal and regulatory framework to the provisions of the Constitution such as the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, said Deputy Minister Paradza.
“To put in place a framework for the conduct of investigations and inquiries, the commission came up with draft ZMC Act general regulations,” he said. “The draft regulations have since been approved by the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. The regulations are awaiting gazetting by the Office of the Attorney General.”
MAZ coordinator, Mr Nigel Nyamutumbu, said the meeting was important to enable journalists engage stakeholders involved in the management of elections.
“For example, the ZEC are empowered to govern elections and are here to equip the media on what to look out of when covering elections,” he said.
It is important to strengthen media accountability to the public in their operations.