The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe chapter has taken the Parliament of Zimbabwe head on, voicing concerns over delays in media reforms as required by the Constitution.
In a letter written to the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda, MISA Zimbabwe national chairperson Golden Maunganidze said since the enactment of the new Constitution in 2013, the media environment has not improved and all the draconian media laws are still in existence.
"Following enactment of the new Constitution in 2013, it was expected that all constitutional obligations, such as the alignment of media laws, would be performed diligently and without delay as stipulated under Section 324.
"Four years later, this has not happened as laws such as the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), among others, are still to be aligned with the Constitution.
"This is despite proclamations by the government that these laws are part of the 400 Acts of Parliament that are set for review with the aim of aligning them with the Constitution," said Muanganidze in his letter.
He said the safety of journalists, especially now as the country approaches the 2018 elections, should be urgently addressed.
"Cases involving the assault, harassment and arrests of media personnel tend to escalate during election periods as evidenced during previous elections.
"This places immense responsibility on the authorities to ensure the safety and security of journalists, not just during elections, but always during the course of their lawful professional duties. For instance, in 2016, a total of 23 journalists were unlawfully arrested or detained while exercising their right to media freedom.
"A total of 12 journalists were assaulted by the police and supporters of Zanu PF while conducting their lawful professional duties of covering events such as protests and demonstrations, as they unfolded. As of October this year, we have recorded five cases involving the assaults and unlawful arrest of journalists while on duty," the letter reads.local