Govt Launches Media Digital Inclusion Scheme

MUTARE– Government is fronting an ambitious digital inclusion project to bridge the urban-rural, poor-rich divide, as part of a cocktail of media reforms says Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa.

Mutsvangwa said to achieve inclusion government launched The Zimbabwe Digital Broadcasting Migration Project (DDT Project), to realize seamless connectivity for every citizen, in a digitally interlinked world of goods, services and ideas.

In her remarks to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information during a consultation on the proposed Media Practitioners Bill, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mutsvangwa said government was committed to extending access to previously marginalized communities.

Under the mandate to align various legislation to the Constitution of 2013, has already repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) splitting it into the Freedom of Information Act and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act, said Mutsvangwa.

“This past month we officially launched the Zimbabwe Digital Broadcasting Migration Project (DDT Project) in Magunje, Karoi. The previously marginalized communities that did not have local radio and television signal now have access.

“By the end of the day, there has to be total digital inclusivity. The urban-rural, poor-rich divide has to be fully addressed. The goal being to realize seamless connectivity for every citizen.

“The internet of both human beings and things will strive to deliver all sorts of gadgetry to the populace. Be it cellphones, notebooks, laptops, tablets, set top boxes, intelligent household appliances, and even self-driving cars.

“That way, we will ensure that every Zimbabwean is truly a national as well as global citizen in a digitally interlinked world of goods, services and ideas. This is a stupendous assignment before all of us. It demands a fully engaged national legislature,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa, says the Second Republic has forged ahead with these media reforms in order to create a conducive business environment for the media.

She said that, the contentious licensing of aligned media houses to broadcast local commercialized radios and campus radios, is a sign of opening airwaves.

“Journalists are now able to work freely; we have accredited those who had been previously black-listed.

“We are determined to increase access to information. A total of six free to air television stations have been licensed; six community radio stations have also been licensed; several tertiary institutions have also been licensed to operate as campus radio stations.”

Addressing the same occasion, Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Nick Mangwana said in spite of misgivings in the legal fraternity government will retain its control of the process of accreditation of media practitioners.

He said this control is a necessity because media practitioners need accreditation more than Government needs them accredited’ to operate within confines of the law, and to ensure accountability to Parliament.

“The issue of accreditation of journalists has been debatable in various forums. Let it be known that media practitioners need accreditation more than Government needs them accredited. They want to use that accreditation to navigate smoothly, without hassles, within their line of work.

 “But as we see it, our role is coordinating when it comes to operations or accreditation of media practitioners. At the end of the day, it is our Minister who is accountable to Parliament or any other legislative body when it comes to operations of ZMC and other agents.”

Minister Mutsvangwa also urged media practitioners to execute their duties with responsibility, ethical considerations, in the face of rumors and unverified reports circulating in proliferating social media platforms.

 “As we discharge our part as Government, we also expect the media to effectively and efficiently play its role for the realization of the goals and aspirations of the Zimbabwean people.

“A credible media has to take responsibility for getting its facts right. That means digging deep, talking to a wide range of people to get the different sides of the story and checking the facts rigorously.

“It should not hesitate to root out and expose lies, hypocrisy and corruption, equally it has to be sure of its facts before publishing. Credibility also means avoiding exaggeration or scare-mongering in order to sell more newspapers through sensationalism.

“Being responsible not only means telling the truth, but also abiding by the law and being honest in the way a journalist gathers information. If the press drifts into law-breaking, then it loses the respect of its readers, viewers and the nation,” she said

On social media’s impact on mainstream reportage, Minister Mutsvangwa said the media vindicate its importance by providing the correct version of every story.

She referenced ‘the ongoing hiatus of President Buhari of Nigeria and ex-President Trump over Twitter’ as sign of the need for ethical media practice and conduct instead of manipulative posting to influence society.   

“In this age of social media, misinformation has become the order of the day and it is the duty of professionals in the media sector to provide correct information.

“Through social media, information can be spread by a few clicks of a button, whether it is true, false, mere speculation or even gossip. Social media can manipulate, influence, persuade and pressurize society, along with even controlling the world at times in both positive and negative ways,” she said

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