Letters: Journalists safety imperative as new laws come into action

Letters to the Editor

THE co-ordinating and governing council of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) made up of representatives of member organisations to the network on December 16, 2022 converged in Harare to consider developments in the media sector and strategic interventions that promote freedom of expression in Zimbabwe.

Members to the network include the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Media Monitors, the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum, the Gender and Media Connect, Enhancing Community Voices, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations and the Media Centre, all of which were represented at the governing council meeting.

Among the key developments that the meeting considered were the ramifications of the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs) Amendment Bill on media professional associations and support organisations.

The meeting reflected on the publicised approved Cabinet principles on the amendments to the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) Amendment Bill and the Media Practitioners Bill, being critical legislation that will address the long-standing contestations on media regulation in Zimbabwe since enactment of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).

Furthermore, the meeting zoomed into contemporary issues, including but not limited to media conduct and safety of journalists in the electoral period, gender inclusivity and mainstreaming thereof in the broader media law and policy reform agenda, media sustainability particularly in view of the plural actors in broadcasting sector.

In light of these considerations, the co-ordinating council resolved:

  1. i) To sustain engagements with broader civic society in advocacy interventions around the PVOs Amendment Bill and to further explore legal solutions based on the network and individual organisations standing in accordance with the requirements of the law once enacted
  2. ii) While sustaining dialogue with government through the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services ministry on the co-regulation of the media, the council resolved to resist and reject the publicised Cabinet principles on the Media Practitioners Bill and ZMC Amendment Bill on the basis that:
  3. a) The principles of accreditation and registration are not hinged on improving the policy on the same, but to merely retain provisions under Aippa;
  4. b) The principles under the Media Practitioners Bill are not premised on co-regulation of the media, but bent on further dividing and polarising the medi;a
  5. c) The principles are a deviation from what the industry representatives agreed with the Information ministry, legislators and the commission representatives at a meeting held in Kadoma on August 11 and 12, 2022;

iii) On the upcoming national general elections, the MAZ Council resolved to sustain engagements with the police in ensuring the implementation of the action plan on the safety of journalists and that there was need to strengthen co-ordination and collaboration on capacity building interventions for journalists, particularly ensuring the inclusion of women journalists;

  1. iv) On sustainability of the media, the council resolved to build momentum on advocacy around the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill that will attract foreign direct investment into the media and that there was a need to widen the pool of media freedom supporters to build a critical development base for the sector.

v) The council appointed ZUJ secretary-general Perfect Hlongwane, who represents the union in the Alliance, as the chairperson for MAZ with the strategic mandate to ensure that journalists are effectively mobilised to defend long-standing positions on freedom of expression, self-regulation, gender inclusivity, professionalism and protection of journalists. - MAZ

Africa leaders must provide sustainable solutions to malnutrition, hunger

AFRICAN Union member States who met in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, have called on governments to speed up investment, co-ordination and implementation of programmes to improve nutrition and food security in Africa.

The African leaders gathered for a three-day meeting to draw attention to the 2022 African Union Year of Nutrition. The meeting ended with the signing of an “Abidjan Declaration”.

This must be the time for Africa and its leadership to rise to the occasion and provide sustainable solutions to the malnutrition and hunger crisis on the continent.

African Union’s executive decision in July 2022 called for a multisectoral policy framework for addressing malnutrition, as well as financing targeted and high-level political commitment to end malnutrition in all its forms.

It is not normal that Africans are underfed and malnourished. We need to develop our internal capacity to produce for indigenous needs.

Despite progress, most African countries still face the triple burden of malnutrition, where stunting and wasting co-exist with obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases like stroke and diabetes.

It is estimated that 61,4 million African children under five years are stunted, more than 12 million are wasted, and some 10 million are overweight.

The Abidjan event focused on strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security in Africa. The Declaration calls for implementing and extending the African Union roadmap beyond 2022.

The year’s theme encourages member States to examine challenges posed by hunger and malnutrition and identify actions and strategies to address them.

The urgency for our continent is to save lives and offer better returns to our youngest, who represent the hope and the future of our community and nation.”

This must be the time for Africa and its leadership to rise to the occasion and provide sustainable solutions to the malnutrition and hunger crisis.

In the case of this year of African nutrition, women, men and children will be the actors and the beneficiaries placed at the heart of development and progress.

The African Leaders for Nutrition will be working with the African Union Commission towards greater impact out of the African Year of Nutrition.

If we accelerate investments and improve co-ordination of efforts, Africa will advance nutrition and improve food security outcomes.

The African Development Bank and the African Leaders for Nutrition should remain committed to working with all governments to see that all deliberations are transformed into impactful commitments. - AfDB

More needs to be done to cushion communities from hunger

IN November, the World Food Programme (WFP) reached 469 835 people under the lean season response and finalised the distribution cycle early December, serving a total 559 328 people with emergency food assistance.

Double distributions were conducted and are also planned for February, with a single distribution to be carried out in January, to deal with access challenges during the rainy season.

The lean season response fits into the national Food Deficit Mitigation Programme, whereby government plans to cover 52 of the 60 rural districts, reaching 2,1 million people with maize grain and WFP in eight districts reaching 700 000 people with cereals, pulses and vegetable oil.

Together, government and WFP will reach all 3,8 million people projected to be cereal insecure by the rural analysis of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC).

Also, following a review and update on the state of school feeding in Zimbabwe, using the Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) methodology, WFP worked with government to unpack the procurement rules and regulations in order to unblock obstacles to successful food purchases for school feeding by subnational authorities.

The SABER methodology examines the policy framework, the financial capacity, the institutional capacity and co-ordination, the design and implementation, and the community participation in school feeding initiatives. In Zimbabwe, government is looking into rolling out a home-grown approach to school feeding.

In Gweru, the city council in partnership with WFP, Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and the Agricultural Advisory and Rural Development Services (AARDS), aired information on the new urban agricultural policy through local radio stations.

Interactive sessions were planned this month to clarify any doubts that residents may have on the application of this policy, which is among the first of its kind in Zimbabwe.

AARDS officers shared seasonal forecasts to 7 200 farmers and carried out trainings on the interpretation of weather and climate information for informed decision-making, using the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture Approach (PICSA) across five districts (Mwenezi, Masvingo, Chipinge, Rushinga and Mangwe).

Pioneered by the University of Reading, PICSA enables farmers to make informed decisions based on locally specific weather and climate information and participatory decision-making tools.

The food security and nutrition situation in the country continues to deteriorate, which is typical as the lean season progresses.

WFP’s HungerMap LIVE indicates an increase in the number of people living in rural and urban areas with insufficient food consumption to be 5,9 million and those resorting to crisis and above food-based coping, which is higher than normal for this time of the year (7,7 million). - WFP

IN response to Newcomer Mthuli makes Zanu PF politburo, OSCAR GWATIDZO says: How did we think it would end? All the Cabinet ministers, their deputies and Members of Parliament got loans from the national purse and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is now being rewarded. The loans will be paid back by taxpayers.

ISAAC MUSHAIKE says: He is now polluted and has been cross-pollinated by Zanu PF. His credentials have lost value.

IN response to Little change in 2023, except more looting, JECHA HUORI says: Twenty years since the formation of the MDC, and then the transformation of the MDC Alliance into Citizens Coalition for Change and the imposition of restrictions on people, urban areas are now looking like ghost towns. Corruption by Zanu PF has increased. Sabotage by opposition party members who visit the United States and her allies has continued. Zimbabweans are in trouble. The sanctions were not imposed by the opposition, but were supported by them. They have weakened our economy and have made out people poorer. The thieves in Zanu PF have continued with their corrupt activities, which is a shame, considering that natural resources in the country, which could have been used to leverage against the effects of sanctions, are being spirited away by a few powerful individuals. The ban on the exportation of raw lithium is a good start. I hope the Zanu PF government will one day abandon its plan to pay our former colonisers billions of dollars after we repossessed our land. We want to prepare a better future for the coming generations so that they are not left with legacy debts.

EMMANUEL MWASANGWALE says: Sometimes I wonder what change all these political wannabes yearn for. Is it change for money? Change of leadership will not guarantee success in your endeavours. You need to unlock your purpose. Then you can be whatever you want. Political leadership is God-chosen. If you contradict the word in the Bible, you will continue living in the doldrums of Biblical knowledge until doomsday. As Africans, we need to change our attitudes, self-empowerment is the answer to being masters of our own destiny. Political rantings will not solve anything other than chasing your own tail.

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