The Parliamentary Committee on Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services says it is deliberating on observations made by international organisations with regards to media reforms in the country during elections.
Speaking at an Election Resource Centre (ERC) briefing with the Committee, Chegutu West legislator Webster Shamu said the committee was looking at the observations made during the 2018 elections.
“In Zimbabwe, observations made by the African Union and any other international observers were really taken into account. We are seriously discussing them and we must improve on the way that we conduct our elections especially the role of the media and that in itself is a very important fundamental for successful implementation of any electoral process.
“We don’t shun to say that we had problems before and those problems must be a learning curve and we must not get back to a situation where we get the media being polarized and people failing to have access to television and radio. There is also need to have a clear plan on whether candidates are going to be charged for advertising because that is important,” said Shamu.
Mutasa South legislator Regai Tsunga said there was progress in the reforms given the passing of the Freedom of Information in Parliament.
“In terms of the legislation that we have now I would say with the Freedom of Information Act, there was wide consultations in crafting that piece of legislation and the philosophy and principle behind that legislation is very positive and it has been widely accepted as a progressive piece of legislation. The legislation is positive in that it allows citizens to demand for any information that they require from any Government agency” Tsunga said.
Election Resource Centre advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga applauded the engagement with the parliamentarians saying it was positive as they presented summary of finding on elections in the country.
“The ERC met with the committee where we were presenting our findings on the state of the media in Zimbabwe and we were also trying to create a framework in which we are able to assist the portfolio committee going forward in exercising oversight on the media. We are also guided by reports from the 2018 elections and the VERITAS case in which the judge declared that the conduct of the media was partisan, partial and unconstitutional.” he said.
Media polarisation along political lines has been cited remained as a stumbling block to democracy in Zimbabwe.