International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate in Zimbabwe,
the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
(ZUJ), cautiously welcomed recent announcements made by the coalition government
in its effort to turn over a new leaf on six years of intimidation and stifling of
have been in recent weeks a flourish of announcements by government officials
of the start of a new era of free expression in Zimbabwe.
But the jury is out and, in the next few months, we will be watching intently
to see what is going to come out of that process," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha following his visit to Zimbabwe early this month with a solidarity mission
organised by IFJ affiliate in the UK and Ireland,
the National Union of Journalists (NUJ),
and the British federation of trade unions (TUC).
BBC and CNN were given at the end of July the green light to reopen their
bureaux, then the leading privately-owned Daily News was rumoured by government
sources to be allowed to publish again. Most importantly, a shortlist of 12
applicants to the newly-constituted Zimbabwe
Media Commission was finally handed over by a parliamentary committee on
standing rules and orders to the presidency for appointment. The setting up of
the commission is expected to start the planned reform of the media.
IFJ has for many years campaigned for the extensive legal regulations to be
scrapped. Laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) and the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) served to justify media
closures and actions against media critics of the government of Robert Mugabe.
has also been calling for a credible form of self-regulation, a radical new framework
for media based upon international norms of journalism and free expression that
encourages the free flow of information, and a strategy to help media overcome
the impact of disastrous economic conditions
the visit, the IFJ President met leading journalists, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu,
Information Communication Technology (ICT) Minister Nelson Chamisa among other
government officials, as well as editors of independent newspapers in Harare.
for media reforms to guarantee a free press feature at the heart of the current
national debate on a new constitution. The IFJ affiliate, the Zimbabwe Journalists' Union,
is campaigning among other things for freedom of information legislation, the recognition
of the status of journalists and the transformation of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation into a public
the politicians that I have spoken to are outbidding each other to echo our
demands for media reforms and pluralism. The challenge now is whether these
announcements are really going to lead to a change and allow journalists to do
their work free of corruption and intimidation," added Boumelha.
his discussion with ministers, Boumelha decried the catastrophic working
conditions of journalists as a result of the country's economic crisis,
describing them as "abject" and "scandalous". One of the most notorious
consequences has been the flight of dozens of Zimbabwean
journalists to seek alternatives of employment aboard. Apart from government,
he said, media houses also needed to play their part in elevating the status of
journalists and improving their working conditions.
of the solidarity mission by the NUJ
and the TUC was to determine the needs of Zimbabwean
journalists and design a working programme to strengthen the capacity of media
professional groups representing journalists, such as the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
For more information contact the IFJ
at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists
in 123 countries worldwide