Journalists hoping for media freedom in Zimbabwe


Some of 50 Namibian journalists protest 18 January 2002 in Windhoek against Zimbabwe's clampdown on press freedom and human rights.

JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwean journalists are hoping for media freedom reforms under President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Editors and senior journalists gathered in Harare this weekend to figure out their role in the new dispensation.

Over the last two decades, press freedom has been supressed in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean journalists have been regrouping, trying to forge a way forward in the wake of leadership changes in the country.

READ: The deadly cost of media freedom

Journalists have gathered under the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, to analyse the new operating environment.

Media Expert, Takura Zhangazha says, "Media must quickly regain  public trust , its  professionally  and democratic  obligation. This  applies  across the body if  you  work for  ZBC or other state owned media outlets , you still have an obligation  to  be professionally and  gain public  trust , not  just on celebrity  news  but  also  hard  news and also to tell  your media owners, that  no our  editorial  independent  is  paramount  to importance  otherwise will  have repeat  of media capture."

Under President Robert Mugabe, the state enforced the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to supress media freedom.

Patience Zirima from the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe says, "I think  analysis  is  something which we take  for granted , I believe analysis  is a skill  that  can  be  built  over  time  but it  requires  news rooms actually  to invest  in  terms of  building capacity  to  analysis."

READ: American journalist faces jail term on subversion charges

Journalists who defied the government risked being killed, arrested, banished and brutalised.

That is why many journalists were initially fearful when the army took control of government institutions during the transition to change.

"When  the  soldiers  went  on TV  that  morning  and they said report responsible  that  set  a  tone  for  all  other  events,  the courts  and everything. That message wasn’t really for just you as journalists. I  am pretty  sure and if  you  look  through  that statements  there  were warns  to other security  arms  as  well," Veteran Journalist Ranga Mberi said.

Zimbabwean journalists are hopeful that the country&39;s draconian and rigid media laws will be relaxed.

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