PERMANENT Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana told stakeholders in the media industry that the country is in the right direction in opening up the media space.
Addressing the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) stakeholders annual conference in Harare yesterday, Mr Mangwana said a culture shift is underway to match the New Dispensation’s thrust towards media pluralism.
“The New Dispensation under President Mnangagwa is a beautiful thing. Starting at the beginning of the Second Republic when President Mnangagwa rolled out a session that happens every Tuesday after every Cabinet meeting where the public is informed of what has been discussed, I don’t have a country other than Zimbabwe which has such an arrangement,” he said.
Since the dawn of the Second Republic, media freedoms have flourished, contentious laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) being repealed while the Government is set to licence new players in the broadcasting industry.
“AIPPA was repealed, it is not partially gone, it’s gone, journalism is no longer being criminalised, but I have to admit that there are certain things that are happening that are not supposed to happen in the practice of journalism,” Mr Mangwana said.
He said journalists played a crucial role in the dissemination of information during the lockdown period and thus helped the Government curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, a global pandemic that Zimbabwe has been able to tackle successfully more than most countries in the West.
“We can change legislation, we can change everything, but culture takes more time to change. I would love to come to a time when we can snap our fingers and it goes away, but it does not work like that because culture is embedded.
“It will take a lot of time (and) it will take a lot of information building for that to happen, but we are heading in the right direction. You can only make progress if your direction is correct.”
Mr Mangwana called upon media practitioners to be professional when dealing with law enforcement agents and not to be agent provocateurs.
“Let’s work together, let us be professional, let us give people the right of reply. From my point as the Ministry we will walk with you, we will defend our profession”.
Organisations that form MAZ include the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (Zinef), Gender and Media Connect (GMC), Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ), the Media Centre and African Community Publishing Development Trust (ACPDT).