The proposed Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) Bill has received huge criticism for certain clauses which seem to impinge upon the rights of journalists when it is supposed to be promoting such.
Speaking during a public hearing at the Parliament of Zimbabwe on the ZMC Bill conducted by the Prince Dubeko Sibanda-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information and Media on this Friday, media practitioners called for the amendment of “repressive” clauses of the bill. Media lawyer, Chris Mhike said:
Bills are supposed to ensure media reforms and higher standards in reforming media policy. Calling for stiffer penalties on journalists is wrong and we cannot have such laws in a democracy as they are draconian. This is the 21st Century and not the 16th Century and if we criminalise journalism, people will be thrown into prison for minor crimes. The ZMC is not a law enforcement agency; it ought to be there to promote media freedom.
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Practitioners also called for the amendment of clauses which give the Minister of Infomation and the ZMC excess powers thereby threatening corporate governance.
They also expressed dissent in the involvement of the police in commissions of inquiry saying this would be tantamount to criminalising journalism.
More: News Day