Govt values role by media in disseminating content- Mutsvangwa

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Bulawayo (New Ziana)– THE Government does not only embrace the media but values its role as the biggest disseminator of the generated content, a cabinet minister has said.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said this while addressing Africa Journalism Media Summit held in Bulawayo Thursday.

The Summit, which was technically supported by the Zimbabwe Centre for Media and Information Literacy (ZCMIL) with the help of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, sought to discuss the role of African governments in safeguarding public interest journalism in a post-news world.

Public interest journalism is journalism that informs the public about matters that they need to know about. It is considered as the antithesis of media’s darker side, which includes fake news, propaganda and
censorship.

“Government does not only embrace the media but values its role, and we are the biggest generator of content and media is the biggest disseminator of that content.

“At the advent of Second Republic, a decision was made to demystify Government processes and Cabinet decisions; hence we came out with the Post-Cabinet Media Briefing.

“Further to the weekly Post-Cabinet briefings, there is no discrimination as to who is invited. We invite State Media; we invite private media.

“We invite freelance journalists, and we invite online content creators. We invite foreign media bureau chiefs as well. These are our efforts at depolarising the media sector and certainly part of the Media Reform
Agenda,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She also said the Government has demonstrated commitment to enabling a conducive environment for the promotion of public interest journalism, restoring trust in journalism, and fighting fake news, disinformation, and misinformation in the post-news world.

“Many of you here will testify that the Zimbabwean Government has demonstrated commitment to enabling a conducive environment for the promotion of public interest journalism, restoring trust in journalism, and fighting fake news, disinformation and misinformation in a post-news world, “she said.

The minister went on to say any media reforms must result in the further development and growth of the media sector.

“This is being enhanced by government’s pursuit of the digital broadcasting migration programme, which will unlock more frequencies for more radio stations.

“Resources have been limited by other contesting interests especially with the striking of Covid19 at the beginning of 2020, but we are getting there.

“So far, the Government has licensed 14 community radio stations and six national free-to-air television stations.

“ZBC was awarded two more television stations, one Content Distribution service licence to Azam Media Pvt Ltd to trade as Azam TV, and with the call for licences by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) licences have been issued.

“Eight (8) campus radio stations have also been licensed to improve campus communication, as well as provide media students with practical broadcasting skills, such that they are ready for the market at the time they complete their studies.

“All this was achieved in a space of three years. The media landscape in Zimbabwe has surely been transformed for better with both plurality of channels and a diversity of players,” she said.

Zimbabwe, Minister Mutsvangwa said, boasts of a vibrant print media sector, where a number of newspapers and magazines are registered to operate, adding that the internet penetration rate continues to grow at a
steady pace.

“The country’s mobile communication reach is phenomenal and there is more vibrancy,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa revealed that the Government continues to mobilise resources to invest in the growth of the media and information sector.

“This is a sector, which offers great possibilities for investment and growth,” the minister told the delegates.

At policy level, Minister Mutsvangwa said, Government have made tremendous progress in realigning the legal and regulatory framework to the provisions of the constitution.

“We have made tremendous progress in realigning the legal and regulatory framework to the provisions of our Constitution. We have repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and in its place we have enacted, the Freedom of Information Act 1 Chapter 10:33, the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act 9 Chapter
10:35, and the Freedom of Information Regulations which together, provide ambiance for the realisation of freedom of expression,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa said Government would continue to engage with its stakeholders to ensure that a more favourable working environment for the media is created.

“In addition to making changes to the laws that my Ministry administers, we are alive to the fact that Zimbabwe Media Commission Act came and left a few things unlegislated that affect the media and will continue to engage with other Government stakeholders to ensure that we create a more favourable working environment for the media to operate in,” she said.

She implored media practitioners to improve on the standards of their profession by reporting truthfully, informatively and analytically.

“They (reporters) should report in a truthful, informative, and analytical way and avoid the temptation of tabloid sensationalism. The Government has adopted stringent policies against the spread of fake news, and it is our belief that the measures put in place provide good grounds for credible journalism to thrive,” she said.
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