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Free airwaves as we celebrate World Press Day

02 May 2020 at 16:30hrs | Views
On 3 May 2020,  Zimbabwe will be joining other countries across the globe in commemorating the World Press Day. This is the time to reflect on how the media is performing in the country.

The media claimed itself to be the fourth estate following the judiciary, legislative and the executive. The media plays a very important role in our lives and acts as the mirror of the society reflecting our pasts and showing us our future.

The media in Zimbabwe has been varying amounts of control by successive governments, coming under tight restriction in recent years by the government of Robert Mugabe, particularly during the growing economic and political crisis in the country.

Let me grab this golden opportunity to salute, observe a minute of silent and thank all journalists in Zimbabwe and across the world who died on tour of duty. You are the heroes of our time.

To those who are still alive and kicking don't be hesitant to pick up the pieces left by the departed and carry on the torch of enlightenment to the marginalised communities and societies.

It is so sad to learn that some journalists are still working under very harsh economic conditions coupled with poor salaries and remunerations with some getting arrested and detained for telling it as it is,  whilst carrying out their assignments.

My life revolves much on the media with its packages. The media has become a central pivot to educate, inform and entertain communities and societies.

Thanks for the new dispensation for repealing draconian media laws such as AIPPA and POSA but I challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government to do more on freeing the airwaves. Media reforms are necessary in order to achieve a vibrant media industry. Talking of media reforms without implementing them is nothing.

Fourty years into independence Zimbabwe is still grappling with one Television station and this does not augur well for media prularism. The country needs more TV and private radio stations. There is need to open more television stations to cater for diverse communities thus creating an enabling environment to fuse, share and marinate ideas.

The media especially the public one, has not been effectively serving the public. Its coverage on political matters has been biased and questionable. A country cannot be built through propaganda.

The media is there to inform , educate and intertain us thereby cementing facets of democracy. A country without a very strong and vibrant media policy is bound and designed to suffer in terms of development.

Most Zimbabweans have switched to the social media and shunning the government owned newspapers though the social media has its own pros and cons.

However information dissemination has improved using social media but data is too expensive for the majority.

It needs the monstrous intellect of journalists to piece together stories and be purveyors of undiluted information to the public.

Recently the police were arguing in court that Statutory Instrument 83 (Covid-19 Regulations) does not define the work of journalists as an essential service--except for Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC)  reporters. This kind of bizarre argument was a gross embarrassment to a modern day democracy.

This explains why police continue  harassing and detaining journalists.
Zimbabwe is not a Fascist State neither is it still living in the Hitler times.

Media scholars, such as Schudson (2008), have observed that in both developed and developing contexts, the media can play critical roles that serve democracy.

The government and the law enforcing agents should not be allowed to abrogate and molest these fundamental rights without due process.

Journalists also tell people about the lives of the less privileged in communities so as to create empathy, and to create a forum for citizens‟ dialogue from diverse perspectives, as well as acting as advocates for specific political programmes and mobilizing citizens to act on them. Imagine a world without the press. Happy Press World Day!


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Source - Leonard Koni
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