The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) has defended the formation of the Zimbabwe Media Council saying the country’s media environment is not yet ready for self regulation.
Matthew Takaona, a ZMC commissioner told Radio Dialogue that the commission was mandated by the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) to come up with a council tasked with regulating the conduct of journalists.
“At the moment when we look at the media environment, we are in transition mode, so it is not possible to practice voluntary regulation without first applying a system of statutory regulation,” Takaona said.
“The reason why the statutory council was put in place is because, as a commission we were receiving numerous complaints from politicians particularly parliamentarians who believe voluntary regulation has not been effective enough in addressing media misconduct. We are all clamouring for self regulation but at the moment we are not yet ready.”
The Media Commission on Thursday launched a media council that will regulate the conduct of journalists. The 13 councillors appointed to the council include Zimpapers chief executive officer Justin Mutasa and Happison Muchechetere, chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.Veteran journalist Henry Muradzikwa chairs the council.
Other members of the council include Major Tikiwa, Veronica Dingi, Ben Madzimure and Tryson Mudariki.
Takaona said efforts were made to consult various media organisations before the media council members were appointed.
The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), in a statement released this week, said while it has always maintained a policy of engagement with the media commission it objected to the formation of the media council under the draconian AIPPA.
“This is an Act that the media has consistently described and experienced as patently undemocratic due to its continued criminalisation of the media and freedom of expression,” reads the statement.
“As a result, the VMCZ, while recognising the statutory obligations of the ZMC, remains persuaded that the move to establish a statutory council is undemocratic nor is it in the best interests of journalists, media freedom and freedom of expression.”
According to the statement, the VMCZ is expected to continue receiving media complaints from the public as well as continuing with active promotion of impartial and professional media ethics and media public accountability.