‘Universal access to information a priority’ Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere addresses guests at the International Day for Universal Access to Information commemorations in Harare yesterday. - Picture: Innocent Makawa

Wallace Ruzvidzo

Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE continues to make concerted efforts to support and increase universal access to information as the Second Republic enhances the free flow of information and ensures everyone has access to internet connectivity, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere said yesterday.

To this end, the Second Republic is prioritising access to information on developments taking place in the country as the country is led on a growth trajectory by President Mnangagwa.

Speaking at an event in Harare to commemorate the International Day for the Universal Access to Information, Minister Muswere said the Second Republic continues to create a conducive environment where the media can thrive.

Government was also making strides in addressing the high cost of data and internet connectivity.

The theme for the day was, “The importance of the online space for access to information”.

“More importantly, I wish to honour His Excellency, President Dr ED Mnangagwa for creating a peaceful environment that has promoted enhanced access to information. Since the inception of the Second Republic in 2018, a number of legal reforms have been instituted such as the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which stifled access and free flow of information.

“The Second Republic is making strides in addressing the issue of high data prices and internet connectivity through various engagements,” he said.

The media, said Minister Muswere, was a vital cog in the country’s development and growth trajectory.

Consequently, the Second Republic was committed to improving internet access even in the most remote areas, as the country leaves no one and no place behind, true to President Mnangagwa’s word.

“Government has made a commitment to improve connectivity in remote parts of the country as we leave no one and no place behind.

“The media is a vehicle for development and as such let me reiterate that my Ministry remains committed to the safety of journalists so that they are able to effectively conduct their duties as enshrined in our Constitution.

“Notably, mainstream media is now going digital, affording citizens an opportunity to wield selection choice on who to listen to or watch and at what time,” he said.

Minister Muswere went on to outline some of the sector-transforming legislation that had been passed to ensure seamless access to information for all.

“The Government of Zimbabwe has done a lot under the leadership of President Mnangagwa: Zimbabwe Media Commission Act, Freedom of Information Act, Cyber and Data Protection Act, the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Development of the New ICT Policy 2022-2025, now awaiting launching but approved by Cabinet, the National Broadband Plan 2020-2030 to be launched soon but approved by Cabinet, the Smart Zimbabwe Master Plan that is approved by Cabinet, the opening up of the media licensing framework for new players, the opening up of the ICT sector to include the use of satellite technology, MVNO etc, are all giant steps by the President in order to ensure that we have universal access to information,” he said.

“Giant strides have been achieved under the New Dispensation which include the legislative, regulatory and the revision of the licencing framework for both the media and the ICT sector.”

The Minister said measures would soon be put in place to counter fake news and misinformation.

“With enhanced access to information through the digital platforms comes the problem of misinformation and disinformation on online spaces.

“To this end Government stands ready to work with stakeholders on capacity building initiatives for citizens and policy makers as part of efforts to counter misinformation and disinformation,” said Minister   Muswere.

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