Mutsvangwa assures journalists of freedom
Bulawayo (New Ziana) – Government is committed always to ensuring the security and safety of journalists as enshrined in Section 6 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, including media freedom, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said on Thursday.
But she also urged journalists not to abuse the rights enshrined in the Constitution, and always be professional in their work.
She said this in a speech read on her behalf by permanent secretary in the Ministry, Nicky Mangwana during a media training workshop on election reporting organised by the Zimbabwe Institute.
Mutsvangwa said: “As Government we remain committed to ensuring the security and safety of journalists as enshrined in Section 61 of our Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, including media freedom.”
The training covered, among other topics, Dynamics of Elections Reporting, Fact Checking – Misinformation and Disinformation, Security of Information during Elections, Current State of Safety and Security of Journalists and the Use of Digital Media in Covering Elections.
The country holds presidential, parliamentary, and local government elections on August 23 to choose new leaders and representatives for the next five years.
The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services itself has also conducted several media training workshops with stakeholders such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Media Commission where journalists’ safety was emphasised and assured.
Mutsvangwa said it was imperative for journalists to always be ethical and professional in the course of their work, especially in times when passions are high, such as election campaigning.
“I want to implore the media to remain resolute in upholding ethical standards in journalism in general and election reportage in particular. Peaceful elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, representing the voice of the people and their right to elect their leaders,” she said.
“It is therefore imperative that the media acts as a faithful steward of the process,” she said.
Mutsvangwa said the role of the media extends beyond mere reporting of events, adding that journalists should be guided by the commitment to uphold the truth.
“The role of media involves generation of well researched articles, production of analytical pieces and making sure diverse voices of ordinary citizens are heard. Media has a responsibility to diligently uphold the principles of
ethics, fairness, and impartiality when reporting on elections,” she said.
She said the media was a critical cog in the governance and democratic processes of the country, adding that the Government appreciates the significant role media is playing to ensure that people are better informed for critical decision making.
“You must maintain a sense of balance and impartiality in ethical reporting as citizens rely on you to provide them with diverse perspectives, allowing them to form well-rounded opinions. By presenting a fair portrayal of all candidates and their platforms, journalists contribute to an informed electorate, which is a fundamental pillar of a functioning democracy,” Mutsvangwa said.
She said hate speech and inflammatory reporting have no place in responsible election reporting, adding that journalists must desist from being political activists.
“There is always the danger that political parties will want to manipulate you to become their mouthpieces, but you should always stick to the values and ethics of the profession,” she said.
Mutsvangwa noted the rapid growth of the digital media in recent years and implored journalists to utilize social media platforms within their organizations to occupy the digital space so as to remain the authoritative and authentic voice in information dissemination.
“We have witnessed in recent years the rapid growth of the digital media where almost everyone has become a journalist but the traditional media, represented by most of you here, remains the authoritative and authentic voice in information dissemination and I urge you to fully utilise your social media platforms,” she said.
Mutsvangwa urged journalists to always ensure accuracy and credibility, and verify sources rigorously, as well as fact-check diligently.