Makonde legislator Kindness Paradza says he is happy to part of Parliament which is going to free the Zimbabwean media which has been under siege for the past 18 years.
Speaking in National Assembly during Second Reading of the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, Honourable Paradza said Zimbabweans want a media which is free and not criminalised during the discharge of its role.
“Madam Speaker, we are dealing with a profession that has been under siege for the past 18 years. This Parliament is going to go down in history as the Parliament which is going to change the media landscape in this country. I am happy to be part of that Parliament.
“The President himself has volunteered to and therefore, as Members of Parliament, who are we to say something which is different from this. The media is regarded as the fourth State so all progressive governments and countries across the world have actually stopped regulating the media. For example, the first amendment of the American Constitution says “Congress shall make no law that infringes on media freedom”. This is well captured in our Constitution as well that we must not temper with freedom of the media and of the press, that is in Sections 61 and 62 of the Constitution.
“I was part of the Committee that went right around the country to seek the opinion of our citizens. Our citizens want a media that is free, a media that is not criminalised, which is able to inform, educate and entertain our citizens. That is basically the role of the media,” he said.
The media in Zimbabwe has been operating under a difficult environment that has seen media personnel being beaten or arrested during the discharge of their duties on several occasion.
The media has also been facing challenges in accessing informing from public institutions among many other things such as multiple accreditations.
According to Honourable Paradza, the media in Zimbabwe has tried but in vain to self-regulate hence the call for co-regulation which he says is very important
“The other issues, just to sum up to what Honourable (Settlement) Chikwinya (Mbizo) has said, the media in this country has tried to self regulate for the past 18 years but this has not worked. So what the people out there and even the stakeholders have told us is that we must go for co-regulation, which is very important and the Government is going to be included in that.
“The Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill is going to create the media council, which is the one which is going to regulate the media. This is the trend all over the world.
He said without a free media, we will not go anywhere. We want our media to be free, give them freedom. Even in our discussions with the President, he is very clear; give the media all the freedom they need. So, let us give them that freedom.
Honourable Paradza added that the media reforms are not conditional and have the backing of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He also said there is a need to create an employment council for the media sector which has been missing for the past 40 years.
“For the past 40 years, we did not have an employment council for the media industry. So, it is disjointed and so forth, so we think that with this media council, apart from dealing with the ethics and also the code of conduct, they will also create employment council for the media council.
“Part of the issues why we are under sanctions is because of this law, this Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act which criminalises the profession of journalism. It is good that this has come at a time when we are going to repeal this law and also we have those two laws in the place where the media is going to be free.
“Madam Speaker, the other issue which is in this Bill, which must be scrapped, is to involve the police. We must not involve the police in this,” he said.