Zim in process of reforming media laws, says Biti

2010-03-27 13:07

ZIMBABWE’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said Zimbabwe is

working to reform its harsh media laws, with work on a new constitution expected

to get under way next month.

“If we look at our situation both from a legal and operational

position, we are lagging behind” in media freedoms, Biti said when he opened a

two-day congress of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) in Harare


“The good news is that we have begun to take decisive steps to

ensure we extricate ourselves out of the media deficit.”

President Robert Mugabe’s government introduced stringent media

laws in 2002 which were invoked to expel foreign reporters and ban several

private newspapers, including a popular daily renowned for its anti-government


“Zimbabwean journalists have over the past few years operated under

some extremely difficult conditions,” Foster Dongozi, secretary-general of the

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists told the congress.

“This resulted in some journalists fleeing the country while others

were arrested or beaten up. We therefore hope that the anticipated media reforms

as laid out in the power-sharing deal will be implemented immediately.”

A new council with powers to regulate the media held its first

meeting last week while a daily banned in 2003 flighted an advertisement calling

back its former journalists and inviting new ones to apply for jobs.

Greater media freedom is one of the key demands of western donors,

who are insisting on political reforms before committing to major new aid to the

unity government.


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