Media watchdog slams govt

Mlondolozi Ndlovu

Harare, May 2016- Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Zimbabwe chapter has slammed the Zimbabwean government for its failure to observe and respect freedom of expression and access to information.

In a MISA-Zimbabwe Quarterly report, Media Freedom Monitor for the period between January-April 2016 the watchdog claimed that the government was not willing to observe citizen rights.

“While the  Bill of Rights (Chapter 4 Rights), has widely been acclaimed as meeting international benchmarks on fundamental human rights, events on the ground speak to a government that is not too keen on respecting citizens’ enjoyment of their constitutionally protected rights,” said MISA in the research.

They also highlighted that the continued existence of archaic and restrictive laws was a major hindrance to Zimbabweans’ enjoyment of the freedom. 

“The situation remains untenable given the continued existence of restrictive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Broadcasting Services Act, Official Secrets Act, Censorship and Entertainment Controls Act, Interception of Communications Act,” they added.

Noting the effects of the obnoxious laws the media institute highlighted that these were being used to criminalise the democratic rights of the citizens.

“These laws remain as strong tools used by the government to criminalise otherwise constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms,” read the report MISA.

They further raised concerns that the current media environment could trigger more constitutional challenges.

“This situation has spawned increased agitation for media law and policy reforms which could trigger costly constitutional challenges on the legality of the afore-mentioned laws and several others that could be in breach of the 2013 Constitution,” read the statement.

MISA which has representatives from 9 of the SADC countries said it was worried at the threats by government that are being targeted towards citizens over the use of the internet. 

“Instead of implementing the long overdue reforms, the government is reportedly crafting legal and policy instruments to govern Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) under the guise of curbing cyber crimes. This has a chilling effect on citizens’ free expression online,” they concluded.

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