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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 6 JUNE 2023 VOL 49 NO 45

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Tuesday, 6th June, 2023

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE ACTING SPEAKER in the Chair)

          *HON. MADZIMURE: Thank you Hon. Speaker. This Parliament is now coming to an end but the Minister has not updated us on the whereabouts of one of our journalists, Itai Dzamara. 

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: On a point of order Mr. Speaker.  The Hon. Member is saying my journalist so we want to know whether he is his personal journalist or is a State journalist?

*THE ACTING SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA):  Hon. Madzimure, please rephrase your statement. 

*HON. MADZIMURE:  My actual words Mr. Speaker were ‘our’ journalist.  A journalist called Itai Dzamara, a Zimbabwean went missing after being picked up by certain people.  The Minister responsible for the maintenance of order in our country promised that he would come and update us on their findings on the whereabouts of Mr. Itai. Dzamara who is a Zimbabwean family man and the family is still troubled.  If the investigations show that he is nowhere to be found, I think they should alert the family so that they have closure culturally and enable his estate will be distributed.  The Minister has been asked three times and even your Chair has been addressed and you promised that the Minister would come but he has not come.  The same happened to Edson Sithole, up to now there is no closure.

*THE ACTING SPEAKER:  We will alert the Minister so that he brings a Ministerial Statement. 

*HON. MLAMBO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  My point of national interest is that I represent Chipinge East.  We faced a challenge a few days ago when soldiers were brought to our area at Chikaide School.  They left that place and went to Glass Flats, they camped behind the shops there but yesterday, people were phoning saying what has happened because the President has proclaimed the election date.  There is training of soldiers going on targeting Chipinge East and Chipinge South.  This is what is happening.  We want to know whether soldiers have been deployed already?

*THE ACTING SPEAKER: They are just doing their duties, I thought you were complaining that they are beating people.

HON. MUNENGAMI:  Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I want you to help us on this issue. Every day we come here as MPs; posing questions on matters of national interest, questions are asked from both sides.  If I remember, we have not had any response from Ministers.  Why am I saying that Hon. Speaker?  I want to give you one example: we have three or five MPs who raised an issue about our currency.  Today as we speak, our rate is now ZWL6 000 against US$1.  Many Hon. Members have asked the Minister but he has not yet responded.  I do not know about you Hon. Speaker, are you happy when the children of Zimbabwe are suffering when they have representatives who come here so that they debate for the betterment of their lives?  This time I was thinking that because of elections, maybe the Minister would come and lie to us so that he can win elections but he is unable to come. 

*THE ACTING SPEAKER: Hon. Member, please withdraw that statement.

*HON. MUNENGAMI:  I withdraw. This issue is very important I cannot ask the Leader of the House - maybe it is you, Hon. Speaker who can help us...

*THE ACTING SPEAKER:  Order, order, it seems you have lost connectivity.

*HON. MUNENGAMI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I withdraw my words.  The issue that I have spoken about is very important.  I cannot ask the Leader of the House because he is not in, but I am asking you Mr. Speaker to assist…

*THE ACTING SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA):  Hon. Munengami, you are not connected.

*HON. MUNENGAMI:  I will repeat the issue which has to do with Ministers who do not come to Parliament.  We ask questions and no-one answers.  No Minister has come to give us a Ministerial Statement with regards to issues of national interest.  I gave an example of the Minister of Finance, Hon. Ncube – we raised the issue of our currency which has been hit hard by inflation.  As of today, the rate is ZWL6000 against USD1.  We have asked what the Minister is doing about this issue because Zimbabweans are suffering but he has not yet come to this House to explain.  We are about to go for elections and no one Minister has come to Parliament.  Have they gone short of plans?  May you give us direction Hon. Speaker, on how we should convey these issues to the Minister so that they come to Parliament and give us Ministerial Statements.

*THE ACTING SPEAKER: You have asked two questions.  I will start with the one on points of national interest – a lot of national interests have been responded to by the Hon. Speaker who will be chairing and he or she will advise the Hon. Member to ask the question on Wednesday.  There are some that have not been responded to like the one you have highlighted.  I will be in contact with the Leader of Government Business so that action is taken with regards to points of national interest that were not responded to.

On the one to do with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development with regards to the rate (ZWL6000 to USD1) – I remember that it was requested here in the House that the Minister should bring a Ministerial Statement with regards to inflation.  The same issue on inflation had been raised again.  We will inform the Minister to come and give us a Ministerial Statement. 

*HON. MUNENGAMI:  Hon. Speaker, will the Minister be able to make it as he is busy drilling boreholes where he is campaigning?

*THE ACTING SPEAKER:  He will come. – [HON. MUNETSI: Akadhakwa here uyu?] – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] -

*HON. MUNENGAMI:  The Hon. Member should withdraw his words. If he does not, he should put me on a breathalyser and see if I am drunk.  My constituents are listening – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

HON. GONESE: On a point of order. My point of order relates to the remarks by Hon. Munetsi – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE ACTING SPEAKER: Order. Less noise in the House Hon. Members!

HON. GONESE: My point of order relates to….

HON. MUNETSI: I withdraw.

*HON. CHINOTIMBA: The term of office for this Parliament is expiring in August.  The Ministry of Finance had given us the opportunity to buy vehicles duty free up to August.  Most of us have not been able to use this facility.  May you facilitate that this provision be extended to December Hon. Speaker? – [HON. MUNENGAMI:  Unotadza kudzoka iwewe.] – haa iwe nyarara mhani iwe.

*THE ACTING SPEAKER: Hon. Munengami, please give him the chance to put across his point. It is a good point – [HON. CHINOTIMBA:  Ndosaka wazonzi wakadhakwa.] – May you continue Hon. Chinotimba.

*HON. CHINOTIMBA:  I was responding to this drunkard…

*THE ACTING SPEAKER: No, Hon. Chinotimba.  Address the Speaker.

*HON. CHINOTIMBA:  Hon. Speaker and your board that looks after the welfare of Hon. Member, may you please ensure that whether a Member is coming back to Parliament or not, they should be able to import a vehicle duty free.  Our Chief Whips should go and ask the Minister of Finance on our behalf.  We need a response this week so that we do not panic.

          *THE ACTING SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Chinotimba for that point of order. However, the conclusion that you made is a good conclusion. So, we will task the Chief Whips to go and engage the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development to lodge a request like you have indicated and we are going to indicate to those who are nearby so that they are aware of the plight and request of the House. I thank you.

          *HON. TEKESHE: My point is similar to that of Hon. Munengami. I got into a shop today and I was shocked to find that the local currency was around ZW$6 000 and ordinary people can no longer afford bread. We need to come to the point of CDF, which is just lying idle because no-one wants the RTGS and they charge the black-market rate. The request is that if Parliament could negotiate to benefit from the auction floor so that this is looked into because ZW$21 million has gone down to US$4 000 and is no longer enough for the constituency.

          *THE ACTING SPEAKER: This is a valid point Hon. Member. We are going to notify the responsible authority, particularly the Minister of Finance and Economic Development so that he looks into the issue of CDF which is ZW$21 million. Indeed, it has been eroded by inflation and as inflation continues, it continues to lose its value.

          *HON. MPARIWA: I thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me  the opportunity to speak. When you listen and look at what is happening, there is shivering at a national level regarding the cries and plea of workers concerning the meagre salaries which are not enough to cover their essential needs. No matter what questions we ask, it is not possible because the money is not enough. Yesterday, I was reading a newspaper and it was written that Alpha Media workers had downed tools because they could not continue going to work. They cannot afford food, transport to work and other daily needs in order to do their jobs.

I also read of ZIMRA workers and we were told that ZIMRA workers are not going to work also because they do not have the tools of trade. Looking at what has been raised by Hon. Members, it indicates that people are no longer able to work. My request then is that what we said is affecting different ministries and so, there is need to carry out investigations so that we know what to do because people are incapacitated, including Hon. Members in this House. No-one is accepting RTGs.

I saw Hon. Prof. Ncube setting some things aside in the shops but the following day, you found the same things back on the shelves in USD. We need to have guidance from the Hon. Ministers because no-one can afford what is happening. The Hon. Ministers of Industry, Labour and Finance and Economic Development should come to this House and explain where people are accepting RTGs.

*THE ACTING SPEAKER: This is a valid point Hon. Member and it relates to what has been said by Hon. Munengami. However, your point spreads to different line ministries, so this question is going to be raised with responsible authorities regarding the value of money.

*HON. HAMAUSWA: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise an issue with regards to the harmonised elections which are going to be held this year. This was raised before by Hon. Machingauta who said that the Hon. Minister of Home Affairs should come to this august House and explain the preparedness of his Ministry regarding peaceful elections. However, Mr. Speaker Sir, our term is coming to an end and we are left with a few days before we go for elections. The Hon. Minister has not come to the House to fulfil the request that was raised in this august House that he should explain the state of preparedness of the Ministry of Home Affairs and indeed, the nation for holding peaceful elections.

I believe that if that is raised, this would allow the people of Zimbabwe to have confidence that elections will be held in a peaceful environment. However, this request has been made three times and it is a request that we ask Mr. Speaker that before the end of the week, the Minister of Home Affairs should give us a ministerial statement on what measures the Ministry is putting in place to ensure peaceful elections. We look forward to peaceful elections. Thank you.

*THE ACTING SPEAKER: I have two responses; the first one being that if the Minister of Home Affairs was to come tomorrow, then I will request that you ask your question during the Question and Answer session because days are moving and we want peace like what His Excellency the President has proclaimed that there should be peace in the nation. Secondly, if the Minister is not coming, we are still going to engage him so that he brings state of preparedness ministerial speech to the august House so that elections are held in peace.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING SPEAKER

NON-ADVERSE REPORT RECEIVED FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY LEGAL COMMITTEE

THE ACTING SPEAKER: I have received a non-adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee on the Electoral Amendment Bill [H. B. 11A, 2022].

HON.  R. R. NYATHI:  Hon Speaker Sir, I move that Orders of the Day Numbers 1 to 11 be stood over until the rest of the Orders have been disposed of.

HON. MATANGIRA:  I second.

HON. MUSHORIWA:  I object Mr. Speaker Sir, because two weeks ago, the Leader of the House moved for the suspension of normal business of the House until we had disposed of all Government business.  As you can see, Order Numbers 1 to 10 relate to Government business and this is the business we have come prepared to dispose.  There cannot be an excuse because just last Thursday, we had posed the same question to the Hon. Speaker when we wanted to move points of national interest.  The Speaker made a ruling that the suspension supersedes everything and to that extent and given the number of Bills that are before this august House, we cannot do any other business unless the Hon. Minister rescinds the suspension of the Orders of the day.  If the Minister is not here, I think we might have to temporary adjourn the House until the Minister comes back.

THE ACTING SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Mushoriwa.  I am being informed that the Minister is coming back.  So Order of the Day Number 11 is reply to the Presidential Speech which is Government business.

HON. GONESE:  Mr. Speaker Sir, I just need some clarification.  Order of the Day Number 11 relates to a reply to the Presidential Speech.  It was moved by a private Member, so it is an ordinary motion by a private Member and does not fall under the definition of Government business.  If you are making a ruling on that premise Mr. Speaker, I stand to be corrected.

THE ACTING SPEAKER:  The reason why we have moved to Motion number 11 is because we have a Minister who would want to respond to the Hon. Members who debated earlier on.  What I said Hon. Gonese is not subject to debate – [HON. GONESE: Inaudible interjections.] -  Give me the floor please.  We do not have to exchange words between you and me.

HON. GONESE:  But my point is that if there is no Government business to transact and if the suspension was on the basis that until the Government business on the Order Paper is disposed of; but this is not Government business, it is a private member’s Motion.  If there is an objection Mr. Speaker, there is a procedure.  The consequences of any objection should be followed.  The Hon. Minister should take a seat.

THE ACTING SPEAKER:  The fact that the Hon. Minister is standing means it is Government business.

HON. GONESE:  But the point is that the motion moved by Hon. Nyathi was objected to and not seconded.  When there was an objection by Hon. Mushoriwa, the Speaker should have asked for those in favour of the motion or those who are against the motion.  So, my point is because there was an objection which was not withdrawn, procedures have to be followed of the objection.

THE ACTING SPEAKER:  The suspension was to give precedence to Government business and not that the House to transact private business.  Thank you.  It is done.

HON. GONESE:  No, Mr. Speaker, rules are rules.  Hon Nyathi moved a motion to stand over some items.  It was duly seconded which is fine but after the secondment, there was an objection and when there is an objection, there is a process which must be followed.  When the objection is not withdrawn, you must ascertain those who are in favour of the motion and those who are against.  Whether it is going to be by way of a voice vote or a division, that is besides the point. So, let us have due process.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

Eleventh Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

Question again proposed.

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION PUBLICITY AND BROADCASTING SERVICES (HON. K. PARADZA): Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir. I rise to give a response to the Presidential State of the Nation Address by my Ministry, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services. Let me thank first of all, those Hon. Members who contributed to the SONA debate, more so specifically on the issues related to my Ministry.

Mr. Speaker Sir, my Ministry has made tremendous progress in realigning the legal and regulatory framework to the provisions of the Constitution as well as the introduction of new players in television community campus satellite content distribution spaces. A call centre was also initiated by my Ministry during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to ensure that citizens have reliable access to information in their preferred language.

The digital Terrestrial Migration Project (DTT) was also initiated through my Ministry. A lot has been done and the project is yet to be completed but citizens are already enjoying the benefits of the project. The media landscape has been transformed a lot as a result of all these achievements. Media reforms were initiated in an effort to create an enabling media environment. The trajectory started with the repealing of various pieces of legislation which included the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) (Chapter 10:27) and replacing it with the Freedom of Information Act Chapter (10:33), in July 2020. The Act gives effect to the right of access to information in accordance with the Constitution. We further consolidated the media reforms by enacting the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act (Chapter 10:35), in April 2021 which operationalised the Zimbabwe Media Commission.

Mr. Speaker, my Ministry is also currently working on a Media Practitioners Draft Bill which will enhance the principle of co-regulation. The Bill is meant to ensure that the media is democratically held accountable and bring professionalism to the calling which has been infected by fake news, misinformation and disinformation. In further reform to the media sector, the amendment of the Broadcasting Services Act is underway. This amendment is very important because it speaks to business in the media sector and will bring investment in the sector. It is my vision that the media sector should be a major employer which has the capacity to absorb graduates from our many local universities.

The amendment will also free up the airwaves and allow more players to operate for the overall benefit of the broadcasting sector. The process has already been initiated through the introduction of new players in television, community, campus and satellite content distribution spaces to mention but a few. To date, fourteen community radio stations, eight campus radio stations and six national free to air television stations have been licenced. In all, we now have 32 radio stations in Zimbabwe.

These developments, Mr. Speaker Sir, are testimony to my Ministry’s commitment to provide universal access to information for all citizens. Our goal is to ensure that all communities and all languages in our country have a voice and every culture is celebrated and promoted. Community radio stations will not only be there to provide entertainment but also act as crucial mediums of information when the country is faced with natural disasters and emergencies caused by climate change such as the Cyclone Idai that ravaged parts of Manicaland in 2019. For example, Chimanimani FM which was established with the help of our development partners will also serve as part of early warning systems for disasters such as cyclones. This will hopefully save more lives and property. In addition, community radio stations will become the fabric that holds communities together and promote unity. Different communities will also have a central reliable point where they access information such as ongoing Government projects and others that are specific to their needs

Campus radio stations on the other hand, provide a practical training ground for our mass communication students to develop skills in broadcasting and operating the technical equipment. This prepares them for broadcasting jobs after graduating. The campus radios engage the youths at institutions of higher learning and are platforms for the promotion of emerging musical trends. These also give promotional exposure to new and emerging artists, therefore helping nurture music talents. In short, campus radio stations bring life skills and educational information to tertiary students.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, ZBC was awarded two more television stations while a content distribution service licence was awarded to Azam Media Pvt Ltd. The coming in of the new players in the broadcasting industry has provided health competition leading to improved content and lower prices for citizens. As I said earlier, the Ministry also initiated a call centre at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide a two-way communication channel for the citizenry and Government. This has now been converted into a national communication centre. The national communication centre provides quality customer services to the users of Government services. Citizens get immediate answers and solutions to their queries. This makes sure that citizens have reliable access to information in their preferred language and get immediate response at no cost to themselves.

The mobile cinema programmes (bioscope) have been brought back in order to take information to the people in all corners of the country. As we continue to build transmitters to cover every square inch of Zimbabwe, we also recognise that this will take time and a lot of resources. Government is also communicating its programmes and projects through these mobile cinema systems which provide infotainment. This is one of the many ways the Ministry is using to give feedback to our citizens.

A lot of resources have been poured into the Zimbabwe Digital Terrestrial Television Migration Project (DTT). Whilst the project is not yet comlpete, citizens are already enjoying the benefits of the investment made. In this regard, the Ministry procured 50 thousand Set-Top Boxes (STBs) to be sold at a subsidised cost to those who can afford so that citizenry can have more enhanced access to information and enjoy local content and productions. STB’s were distributed freely in Binga and Hurungwe, in this regard. The digital TV satellite was switched on around 18 sites where transmitters are digital compliant.

The media landscape in Zimbabwe has surely been transformed and my Ministry undertakes to continue to work around the clock to ensure total transformation of the media environment leaving no one and no place behind. In an effort to curb misinformation, disinformation, fake news and unethical reporting during the forthcoming 2023 Harmonised Elections, the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) developed an election reporting and peace journalism manual that was validated by media stakeholders in November 2022. The Commission will soon be rolling out training programmes for all media practitioners covering elections. The ZMC national interest driven media brand was further entrenched by an open-door policy to deepen democratic engagements with stakeholder on information dissemination, professionalism, ethics, and inclusivity in diversity as well as widening the media reach in Zimbabwe.  Following right behind COVID-19 and the effects of digitalisation on the media business, the Commission put into place some mechanisms that would assist the media in reporting the forthcoming 2023 Harmonised Elections as is required by the Zimbabwe Electoral Act Section 160 (k) as read with Statutory Instrument 33 of 2008 (Media Coverage of Elections General Regulations).

          Generally, elections bring to the fore the need for inter-agency coordination and highlight the need for media regulation and governance.  This is so as the media is expected to play a critical role in creating a conducive environment for holding free and credible elections.  Hon. Speaker, the media is expected to be objective, factual and fair.

          There is no express provision in the 2013 Constitution and in the ZMC Act on the registration of mass media services and the accreditation of journalists.  The repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA,) Chapter 10:27 created a legal lacuna as the ZMC Act does not provide for either the registration of media houses or the accreditation of journalists and other media practitioners.

This being the case, my Ministry in consultation with the ZMC and other stakeholders, came up with the Draft ZMC Amendment Bill principles which were approved by Cabinet in November 2022.  As stated earlier, the Media Practitioners Bill will provide for the registration of media services, accreditation of media practitioners, and a framework for co-regulation.

          The current registration and accreditation framework were adopted in line with the provisions of AIPPA.  The framework seems relevant in line with the Statutory Instrument 169C of 2002 dealing with registration and accreditation issues.

          The AIPPA had restrictions for applications to qualify for registration as mass media owners in Zimbabwe and for foreigners to invest in the media.  However, there are some applicants who find it difficult to pay the registration amount at once.  The ZMC Board made a decision to accept a payment plan from applicants finding it difficult to pay the full amount at once.  The Commission noted and acknowledged the following issues characterizing the media environment.  These factors influence the policy direction and activities of the Commission from a strategic point of view.

          Falsehoods and Hate Speech – the developments in ICT have managed to redefine the media globally.  Of concern has been its effect on the spread of falsehood, hate speech, and invasion of privacy.  As alluded to above, there is no law at the disposal of the Commission to deal with these issues.  The Cyber-Security and Data Protection Act provides for some of these breaches of freedom of the press and expression but does not capture all the ancillary shortcomings related to cyber security.

          Breaches of Freedom of Expression of the Press – The Ministry has noted with concern instances of abuse of freedom of the press and that of expression as provided for by Section 61 of the Constitution.  In some cases…

          HON. MADZIMURE: On a point of order! What the Minister is saying is purely coming from the Ministry and not from the debates that were made here by Members responding to the Presidential Speech.  This is now a Ministerial Statement. Some of the things that the Minister is raising are new things that can even cause conflict.  If there was anything that was said by the Members, the Minister must be referring to the individual Members who made those statements.

          THE ACTING SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Madzimure but he is the Minister.  Hon. Members made contributions, and some of the things were actually hanging in the air.  Therefore, as the Minister, he is supposed to give sufficient responses, clarify and add impetus to the points that were raised by Hon. Members.  You cannot just restrict him to the issues that were raised. 

          HON. PARADZA: Thank you, Hon. Speaker.   In some cases, reliable information is increasingly becoming a scarce commodity.  We have seen a deliberate abuse of social media platforms by those who peddle fake news and even blatant intentional falsehoods, including spreading hateful speech, ethnic hatred, and promoting other decisive agenda.  It is disturbing to note that there are some media outlets that celebrate these distortions.

          Lack of Professionalism - Hon. Speaker, concerns have been raised by Hon. Members on issues to deal with professional conduct by the media when it comes to ethics.  Polarisation continues to characterise the media and the reportage that obtains today.  It becomes difficult for readers, listeners, and viewers most of the time to get what is true and correct.  Continued engagements and dialogue with stakeholders are hoped to help bring some sustainable remedies.

          Hon. Speaker the advent of ICTs means anyone, anytime can communicate anything through various platforms.  Most of this information is not verified.  It leaves citizens bombarded with too much information that is not credible, thus left confused.  Mainstream media most of the time is failing to fill this void.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Zimbabwe citizens want true, correct and credible information.  Due to the growth of ICTs and online publications, as I have mentioned, media has had to redefine itself in the context of the current operating environment.  The COVID-19 period posed challenges mostly to the print media as movement of goods and services were restricted, so were print publications.  This scenario witnessed media services downsizing and adopting survival strategies to remain economically afloat while at the same time remain relevant. 

Failure to adapt to the new technologies witnessed some media services going under mostly community and regional publishers.  The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the developments in the ICTs, have managed to reshape and redefine the media sector today.  They have also reshaped and reoriented reading, viewing and listening trends.  Simply put Hon. Speaker, the media in this country will never be the same again. 

In terms of the economy, economic challenges have impacted negatively on most media operations.  Media services have scaled down operations, meaning as I said, reduced print runs, newspapers are becoming thinner and thinner with a few news articles.  Newsprint procurement which is a major operation cost continues to be a big challenge coupled with other operational requirements that include machinery, transport and operation capital.  A huge number of media services are failing to start publishing after getting licenced.  Media is not on the priority list regarding loan schemes by banks.  It is difficult for media operators to access operating capital. 

Community publishers have been hit harder by this negative operating environment, with those unable to adapt to e-publishing finding it difficult to operate.  My Ministry together with ZMC are focused on the need to address the fast changes taking place in the media which the Constitution of Zimbabwe requires ZMC to regulate.  There is need to revisit report of the media and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) to determine what constitutes the media sector in Zimbabwe.  The report of 2014 will influence how regulations should be framed.  The worldwide phenomenon, popularly known as convergence, will have far reaching effects on media landscape and on regulation. 

The ZMC continues to receive media complaints against some journalists and media houses but cannot do anything owing to the lack of legal provisions on how to deal with such complaints as alluded to above.  

A law dealing with media governance or regulation is not yet in place as envisaged and this has created a legal void.  The ZMC Act in its current form, does not provide for media regulation but issues that threaten freedom of expression and of the media.

As I stated earlier, all these gaps will be cured by the proposed Media Practitioners Bill, which is currently being drafted by the Attorney-General and should be ready anytime soon. 

Hon. Speaker Sir, the media as the fourth estate is expected to play a critical role in the forthcoming elections.  The role of the media is to provide that two-way communication between the voters and the candidates. It is expected to unpack the electoral process for various stakeholders.  It is the duty of the media to objectively inform citizens of their rights and activities taking place as part of the electoral process.  Above all, the media should assist in the creation of a conducive environment for the holding of a free and credible election. 

On the other hand, Hon. Speaker, if left unchecked, the media can make or break this election.  It becomes a major challenge for the country to go for elections without any laws or instruments that govern the conduct of the media.  It is in this respect that my Ministry sees the need for the Media Practitioners Bill being an urgent issue.  I thank you.  

HON. MATANGIRA:  I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. TEKESHE:  I second.

Motion put and agreed.

Debate to resume: Wednesday, 7th June, 2023.

          HON. BITI: Before adjourning, can the Minister be reminded to bring his statement tomorrow on the issues of the runaway exchange rate which is now at ZWL6500:USD1 and also the issue of the blended rate of inflation which is non-existent anywhere in the world and was implemented through Statutory Instrument 127 of 2023.

On the motion of THE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (HON. PROF. M. NCUBE), the House adjourned at Twenty-Six Minutes past Three o’clock p.m.

 

 

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