MISA open letter to Mugabe and Tsvangirai
To: The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency President Robert Mugabe
The Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Morgan Tsvangirai
The Deputy Prime Minister Professor Arthur Mutambara
The President of the MDC, Professor Welshman Ncube
Ref: New Constitution and the imperatives for comprehensive media legislative reforms
The Media Institute of Southern Africa – Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe) by virtue of this letter humbly welcomes the endorsement of the Draft Constitution by Parliament as a significant milestone that offers immense opportunities for the entrenchment of democracy and enjoyment of fundamental rights in Zimbabwe.
As a media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information advocacy organisation, MISA-Zimbabwe is particularly encouraged by the inclusion in the Constitution of explicit provisions that for the first time guarantee media freedom and citizens’ right to access to information.
In view of this significant development, MISA-Zimbabwe takes this opportunity to humbly draw your highly esteemed attention on the attendant urgency and imperative need for comprehensive media legislative reforms subsequent to the signing of the Draft Constitution into the country’s supreme law by His Excellency President Robert Mugabe.
We humbly submit that the urgency for these reforms is of significant importance ahead of the harmonised elections and thus necessitating increased impetus towards the realignment and streamlining of the country’s laws, media regulatory bodies and the public media accordingly.
This will ensure conformity with the new constitution and other regional and international instruments that Zimbabwe is signatory to, notably among others, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa, Southern Africa Protocol on Sport, Culture and Information, African Charter on Broadcasting.
Viewed in the context of the forthcoming elections, ensuring that these reforms are instituted well in advance will not only allow for increased enjoyment of media freedom, citizens’ right to freedom of expression, assembly, association, and access to information, but will go a long way in complying with the SADC Guidelines and Principles on the Conduct of Democratic Elections as well as the region’s asserted position on Zimbabwe’s Election Roadmap.
Existing laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Public Order and Security Act (POSA), Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act, Interception of Communications Act, Official Secrets Act and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Act, among others, stick out as some of the Acts crying for wholesale repeal or amendment of some of their provisions.
MISA-Zimbabwe is therefore appealing to your esteemed offices to ensure that all the relevant ministries, government institutions, the Parliament of Zimbabwe and other key institutions are sufficiently implored, resourced and galvanised towards fulfilling the urgent task ahead.
In making this humble appeal, MISA-Zimbabwe together with its alliance partners under the auspices of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ), is not only guided by the universally accepted fact on the critical role played by the media in the enjoyment of fundamental rights, but more so by the fact that media freedom by its very intrinsic nature, is a key ingredient in complying with democratic benchmarks.
We thus stand ready to render our assistance towards fulfilling the nation’s high expectations in the country’s democratisation process underpinned by the requisite and urgent comprehensive media legislative reforms.
c.c Speaker of the House of Assembly, Honourable. Lovemore Moyo
c.c President of the Senate, Senator Edna Madzongwe
c.c Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Honourable Webster Shamu
c.c Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, Honourable Nelson Chamisa
c.c Minister of Transport and Communications, Honourable Nicholas Goche
c.c The Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda
c.c The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Mr George Charamba
c.c The Chairperson Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technologies, Honourable Settlement Chikwinya
c.c The SADC Facilitation Team