Madam Speaker, Hon. Mokone raised most of the pertinent issues as they relate to commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. So what we are looking forward to now is the unpacking of the National Development Strategy One 1 by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, the Portfolio Committee on Media and Broadcasting Services and all stakeholders so that the objective of image building, since this is supposed to contribute to improved economic performance, would also improve journalists’ living and working conditions. The media is a potent tool at the disposal of the state and government is relaying information to all the corners of the country. We need to harness the power of the media in our mantra of “leaving no place and no one behind” in the development equation.
Madam Speaker, celebration or commemoration of the 3rd of May as World Press Freedom Day is not a foreign theory. Amongst the participants at the 1991 seminar in Namibia that gave birth to the Windhoek Declaration were our very own sons. Zimbabwe was fully represented at the conference. We are party to this declaration which culminated in the United Nations Declaration of May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day, a day meant to celebrate the feats and achievements of our press, as well as take stock of those developments that aim to enhance freedom of the press and those challenges confronting the industry.
Through the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, whose secretary General then was none other than the current Deputy Minister Minister of Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Hon. Kindness Paradza, a decision was taken to send the then Chairman of ZUJ, Vincent Chikwari to the seminar. Chikwari joined other Zimbabweans who participated in the seminar in the form of Geofrey Nyarota, Geofrey Takawira Chada, Onesimo Mukaru-Kabweza, Hugh Lewis, Andrew Moise and Govin Reddy. Zimbabwe was indeed a participant, a signatory to the origination and consummation of the Windhoek Declaration.
Madam Speaker, commemoration of World Press Freedom Day tends to just mention the Windhoek Declaration without reading its provisions. We must speak to it, walk it and be guided by it in our day to day living. If you look at the Declaration, you find that there are a number of paragraphs and when I went through it, I decided to recommend to this august House and my colleagues within the media fraternity that for now we need to pay attention to paragraphs 2, 3 and 12. I find those paragraphs Madam Speaker have relevance to Africa and most importantly, South Africa where we are situated.
For maybe a better understanding of where I am coming from, I will read the three paragraphs. Paragraph 2 declare as follows: “By an independent press we mean a press independent from Government, political or economic control, or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals”.
Yes, indeed Madam Speaker, even our very Constitution guaranteed freedom of the press and independence of editors to shape their own editorial policies. A compromised press would not reflect the realities on the ground and on issues affecting our people. Instead, they become mouthpieces of the politically powerful and economically sound. A true independent press, as per the Declaration, is a prerequisite for a balanced national agenda and development.
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