MISA -Zimbabwe on 18 November 2016 simultaneously launched the African Media Barometer (Zimbabwe 2015) and its 2016 Transparency Assessment Report at Dema shopping centre in Seke during a ceremony attended by 82 people.
Findings for the African Media Barometer were delivered by Patience Zirima and Chris Musodza who were among the publication’s research panelists. Speaking at the meeting the panelists noted that despite the adoption of a new constitution in 2013, the media operating environment remained unchanged.
The panelists cited the continued existence of repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Official Secrets Act (OSA) as obstacles for a free media.
Zirima noted the media remained polarised along political lines characterised by sharp divisions in the coverage of economic and political issues.
The presenters also alluded to the fact that media pluralism had improved citing the coming on board of ZiFM and Star FM after being licenced in 2012 and effectively breaking ZBC’s age-old monopoly over the airwaves.
Musodza also spoke about the new information and communication technologies as having opened new avenues for exercising freedom of expression in Zimbabwe, among other advantages.
Residents called for a local publication that speaks to their everyday needs and challenges. They said that the existing media outlets were not promoting their local cutures and not highlighting the challenges that they are facing such as the destruction of forests
Councillor Rubatika of ward 2 said that the media had to safeguard the culture and morality of communities. he said ” We find pictures of naked people being published but this is not necessary.It is taboo in our culture”
Meanwhile, Malvern Mukudu, the principal researcher of the Transparency Assessment Report, took time to explain the findings of the annual survey which aims at gauging the levels of transparency and the readiness of public institutions in disclosing information.
Mkudu noted that, out of the 10 institutions surveyed, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board was the most open and transparent institution followed by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Grain Marketing Board, while the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education was the most closed and least responsive in terms of information disclosure.
The research seeks to find which of the government departments and other public bodies is most transparent and easily gives information to citizens and journalists in line with the new constitution that affords citizens right to access information held by public bodies.