Netherlands and Zim exchange notes on media freedom
Yeukai Karengezeka Herald’s Correspondent
The Dutch Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Dr Margret Verwijk, yesterday paid a courtesy visit to the Deputy Minister for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Kindness Paradza, at his office in Munhumutapa, Harare , where they discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in the media sector between the two nations.
Ambassador Verwijk said they had a fruitful discussion on the subject of media freedom.
“We discussed one of the recommendations from the European Union Election Observation to Elections on the importance of media access for all political parties.
“I was told that access was very much available at ZBC and was channeled through the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission office, giving access to TV broadcasting and also airtime to all political parties ahead of the elections” , she said.
Ambassador Verwijk, however, raised concerns about the drop in the media freedom index in her home country following the murder of prominent Dutch journalist Peter R de Vries in the center of Amsterdam by contract killers linked to organized crime syndicates.
Ambassador Verwijk said she learned a lot about how Zimbabwe is progressing in promoting media freedom.
“We care about media freedom and sometimes there are workshops that we are able to support. We agreed to keep in touch and continue our discussions on media freedom,” she said.
Deputy Minister Paradza said he had a vigorous exchange of views with Ambassador Verwijk regarding the state of the media in this country. The government has asked to interact more and have exchange programs with the European country.
“I took her on a journey from the start of our media law reform program. How the media landscape has changed since 2018 with the arrival of the current President Mnangagwa.
“We discussed repealing AIPPA and replacing it with the Freedom of Information Act. We discussed the upcoming bill, the Zimbabwe Media Professionals Bill and the opening of the airwaves,” Deputy Minister Paradza said.
So far, the government has licensed six national commercial television stations, 14 community radio stations and seven campus radio stations.
As part of the 2030 Vision to transform the media into a multi-million dollar industry, Deputy Minister Paradza said the government will amend Zimbabwe’s Broadcasting Services Act so that foreigners are allowed in and to invest in the media industry.