‘Safety of journalists top priority’ Permanent secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana (front row right) and International Training Programme (ITP) national facilitator Mr Nigel Nyamutumbu (front row left) pose with participants of the programme (standing from right), Belinda Chitope, Zimpapers Group Editorial Executive William Chikoto, Betty Munowenyu, Golden Maunganidze and Sipho Makone during the presentation of certificates in Harare yesterday.— Picture: Memory Mangombe

Rutendo Gomwe Herald Correspondent

ZIMBABWE will continue to uphold the safety of journalists through ensuring they are not abused by other citizens and corporates, Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said yesterday.

He was speaking during the handover of certificates to five participants of an international training programme on media regulation bankrolled by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), as part of efforts to support media freedom across the world.

The certificates were handed over to Ministry of Information deputy director legal services Belinda Chitote, the immediate past chair of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media Sipho Mokone, media trainer and chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Golden Maunganidze, Zimpapers Group editorial executive William Chikoto and Betty Munowenyi who works in the research department at Parliament of Zimbabwe.

In his address, Mr Mangwana, who handed over the certificates, said Government will continue to ensure that journalists are safe while performing their jobs by enforcing the law. He also called on media stakeholders to draw sustainable operational guidelines to help stop violence against media professionals.

“Like what the President has said, the safety of journalists is guaranteed by the Zimbabweans themselves. The safety of journalists is guaranteed by our law-enforcement agents by making sure they (journalists) are not abused or there is no aggression towards them from citizens, corporates and from anybody they have written something about.

“When it comes to the security of this country, we have institutions for that. Nobody should take the law into their own hands.” Mr Mangwana praised the cordial ties that exist between Zimbabwe and the Swedish International Development Agency, which funded the 12-month programme. “Although our relationship started on a suspicious page, we are happy that now we trust each other and we are sharing almost the same sentiments on the safety of our media practitioners”.

The programme has been running for the past five years and brought together State and non-state media stakeholders drawn from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The programme’s distinct features are that it contributes to the promotion and protection of institutional frameworks and ethical guidelines that govern self and co-regulation of the media sector.

Courses included knowledge in self-regulatory mechanisms operating in a statutory system, media policies and the role of media in a democratic framework and tools to initiate and promote transformation or change initiatives.

Mr Chikoto said the programme was crucial and contributed to the harmonious working relationship between media and other stakeholders, especially law-enforcement agents.

“The programme has been feasible on implementation. For the first time, in the recent elections, I do not recall any journalist that was arrested or beaten up.

“If you compare with other years, we used to hear of cases of violations against media practitioners,” he said.

International Training Programme national facilitator Mr Nigel Nyamutumbu said the training offered not only exposure, but getting into context of where some of the international agreements come from and how the global family define media regulation.

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