Media reforms on course – Govt

Nick Mangwana

The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services is finalising the repeal of some media laws such the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) to ensure a sound media industry in the country, an official has said.

Speaking during the belated World Press Freedom Day commemorations in Kwekwe on Friday night, Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said Government was working on three new three Bills to improve access to information.

“We are a listening Government because when you pointed out that there was a gap we listened. When you said this is too restrictive we listened. We took your views on board and that is why we are working on these Bills,” he said.

Mr Mangwana said the media fraternity plays a pivotal role in disseminating information hence the need to free the airwaves and create a media friendly environment.

“We believe people should get factual information and the media is a very important cog. Freedom of information is also very key to us as you know the institution that generates more information than any other is the Government and citizens have the right to access that information,” he said.

Mr Mangwana said there were growing concerns over the restrictive nature of AIPPA hence the move to repeal it.

“There were sentiments that AIPPA is the biggest assault to democracy, you (media) also spoke in unflattering terms of AIPPA and we listened. The fate of AIPPA is that it will be repealed, but there were certain aspects that needed to be addressed and legislated. We sat down and agreed what to legislate so we developed principles to the three Bills,” he said.

He said the three Bills are the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, the Freedom of Information Bill and Protection of Personal Information Bill.

“We put a lot of information in them. But this country has an Executive, when we put up ideas we come to the Executive. So the Executive has taken a position especially on the freedom of expression principle.”

Mr Mangwana said the new Freedom of Information Bill would ensure that information will be accessed easily at any time.

“We also put in place information officers in many institutions that generate information so they are the ones that you would approach in case you need and information,” he said.

“It compels the holders of information to disseminate it in time say within 48 hours to access information when it is urgent. Then within 21 days if it is not urgent.”