State Media|Cabinet has approved the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill and the Freedom of Information Bill, which are expected to be gazetted by Friday.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi presented the respective Bills in Cabinet yesterday.
Minister Ziyambi chairs the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
Briefing journalists after the Cabinet meeting, Minister Mutsvangwa said the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill seeks to harmonise the Broadcasting Services Act (Chapter 12:06) with Section 61 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
She highlighted the major proposed changes to the country’s broadcasting laws.
“The proposed amendment Bill provides that every person has the right to freedom of expression and freedom of media,” she said.
“It also proposes that freedom of expression and freedom of the media excludes incitement to violence, advocacy of hatred or hate speech, malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity, and malicious or unwanted breach of a person’s right to privacy.”
The proposals, Minister Mutsvangwa said, also included the freedom to establish broadcasting and other electronic media of communication, subject only to State licensing procedures.
“That all state-owned media of communications must be impartial and free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcasts,” she said. It is also proposed that Section 21 of the principal Act be amended to indicate that the role of BAZ is to regulate and supervise rather than to control broadcasting services bands.
“. . . that the objectives of the Broadcasting Services Act be broadened to address the diversity of opinion, ideas, values, artistic, creativity and talent of citizens in programming in order to advance the freedom of expression, multiculturalism and linguistic plurality,” she said. The Bill also seeks to provide for transparency and accountability in the appointment of members of the board among several other changes being proposed.