‘Media should end polarisation’

MUTARE residents yesterday told the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) that the media in Zimbabwe should end polarisation and focus on developmental issues and exposing corruption.

Others said it was time the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services licensed new players, particularly community radio stations, so that they would provide alternative voices which suited particular communities.

IMPI is on a countrywide tour to gather views of the people regarding the state of the media in Zimbabwe.

“We are tired of the polarised media in Zimbabwe. We don’t want bias because it helps nothing to the generality of the population. What we want now is the developmental issues and focus on issues that might help grow the economy,” a contributor said.

A disabled contributor added: “The media should do more to focus on people living with disabilities. If we feature more frequently in the media, then it means we get an opportunity to get help. We are facing too many problems, some of them which are abuse by our local authority. Had it been that we get the same assistance like that we get when voting (in the voting booth), then we will not be the same as we are today.”

One elderly participant urged the media to continue exposing corruption and individuals who dip their fingers in the public funds.

Others urged the country’s sole broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to up its game concerning news coverage.

“We want the monopoly to end. ZBC should improve its programming and stop giving us stale news. They should move with time and they should not wait for weeks before we get their stories,” a contributor said.

Some journalists attending the IMPI called for the introduction of a National Employment Council to look into their welfare.

They also decried the continued harassment of journalists at work and the repressive media laws which militate against freedom of expression and access to information.

Prominent Mutare lawyer David Tandire said more had to be done to align media laws with the new Constitution.

IMPI, which comprises different media employees and stakeholders, is chaired by veteran journalist and former Daily News Editor Geoffrey Nyarota.

The NewsDay

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Demolitions: Rights lawyers warn Chombo

HARARE – Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo’s threat to evict and demolish houses for “illegally-settled” Chitungwiza and Manyame rural residents has been branded unconstitutional by rights lawyers.

Chombo issued a three-week ultimatum last week to Chitungwiza and Manyame Rural District Council residents to destroy their illegally-constructed houses.

The houses in question are those built on wetlands, on top of sewer pipes and under powerline servitudes and are still under construction.

About 14 000 families will be affected by the evictions.

“The proposed evictions and demolition of housing structures will not only violate the Constitution but impair the rule of law,” Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda said.

“The government particularly the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ministry headed by Ignatius Chombo must assure citizens that the government will follow the dictates of the law in executing the planned evictions and demolition of property given the fact that Zimbabwe has entered a new constitutional dispensation, which provides for the protection of the basic human rights of the people.

“ZLHR reserves the right to institute legal action to protect citizens’ rights which are on the verge of being violated.”

In 2005, government embarked on a slum clearance operation known as Murambatsvina where over 700 000 people were displaced.

Government has argued that people exposed themselves to danger by settling close to high voltage power pylons, on wetlands and disregarded urban and rural planning by-laws.

The rights lawyers said the eviction and planned demolitions violated several key protective provisions of the new Constitution such as the right to shelter and freedom from arbitrary eviction enshrined in Section 74.

“So the government must comply with the provisions of Section 74 of the new Constitution which states that no person may be evicted from their home, or have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all the relevant circumstances,” Mafunda said.

“In taking any action that the government has threatened to, it must honour its constitutional obligations before rolling out the planned forced evictions of residents.”

Mafunda said Chombo should furnish the public with the duration of the notice period given to the affected families and persons.

He said the right to shelter was a key provision under the new Constitution.

Section 28 of the Constitution states that: “The State and all institutions and agencies of government at every level must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to them, to enable every person to have access to adequate shelter.”

The DailyNews

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