Zimbabwe: Journalists welcome Media Practitioners Bill

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (ZINEF) have welcomed Cabinet’s approval of the principles of the Media Practitioners Bill, which, among other things, seeks promote the independence and co-regulation of media professionals.

A key aspect of the bill is the establishment of a Zimbabwe Media Professionals Council, which will be responsible for regulating and enforcing professionalism among all media professionals. The Media Council will have delegated powers from the Zimbabwe Media Commission to discipline its members, with the Commission acting as the appeal body.

In a joint statement, ZUJ and ZINEF expressed support for a framework that allows for an industry-led mechanism to regulate media affairs, with the Commission providing oversight and appeal functions.

“The emphasis is on ensuring media professionalism, making the industry independently self-regulate and ensuring journalism is protected.

“In this context, ZUJ and ZINEF welcome the Cabinet principles obtained in the government notice of April 30, 2024 pronounced by Minister Muswere, on the basis that the legislative intent aligns with our position of the need to professionalize the sector, anchoring co-regulation. on a law that provides space for the industry to elect representatives to oversee the affairs of media professionals and the principles provide for the independence of this proposed regulatory mechanism,” the statement reads in part.

For years, the two bodies have been advocating for a law that allows for self-regulation, allowing the media industry to govern itself autonomously.

Proposals to have a law giving effect to media co-regulation are a by-product of a more than decade-long pushback by Zimbabwean journalists and media sector who oppose legal regulation of media. media as provided by the widely condemned Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Legal regulation of the media would be further consolidated with the establishment of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) among the independent constitutional bodies in the 2013 Constitution and subsequently with the enabling legislation, the ZMC Act, enacted in 2022.

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