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LOCAL print and broadcast media editors have vowed more impetus to force the slow paced realignment of media laws to the country’s new Constitution by law makers.
At an editors’ workshop in Harare last week, the news gatekeepers noted the continued use of the old charter by the state to clamp down on free expression.
Top among the laws cited during the seminar was the one compelling scribes to reveal their news sources when called to do so by the authorities.
Media lawyer, Jacqueline Chikakano said journalists were protected from this requirement under the new constitution but remained vulnerable as the old law empowers the authorities to demand such revelations.
“Since the protection of journalists’ sources of information is now a constitutional guarantee,” she said, “our laws should be reviewed wholesomely so that the protection of sources is evenly reflected in our laws.
“As it is, I have not seen anywhere where this has been included to reflect what is in our constitution.”
This comes after three Sunday Mail journalists were last week arrested for publishing “falsehoods” in a story which linked a top police officer and parks officials to a spate of poaching activities in Hwange through cyanide poisoning.
The journalists were asked by police to disclose their sources, which they declined citing provisions of the current constitution which protects them from revealing their sources.
Chikakano outlined a slew of media laws in the country’s statute books which she said both enhance and inhibit the free practice of journalism.
She however, cautioned against the abuse of journalistic rights which she said were “not absolute”.
On their part, the editors vowed to increase reporting on the need for law makers to align the country’s multiple laws to the new Constitution.
This, they resolved, would also be accompanied by petitions to parliament and the executive as well as engaging NGOs in efforts aimed at pushing the speeding up of media law reforms, among a host of strategies.
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef) acting chair, Njabulo Ncube, said editors were key in the push for the operationalisation of nearly 400 laws to the country’s new constitution.
“Editors are very influential people. The majority of Zimbabweans get most of their news from newspapers and radios,” Ncube said. source-newzimbabwe