Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (Impi) chairman, Geoff Nyarota has dismissed claims by Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) Chairperson Godfrey Majonga that the panel was duplicating the functions of the commission.
BY our staff
Nyarota said Impi would have preferred that the question of its mandate vis-á-vis that of ZMC be raised with the responsible Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services at the time the panel was constituted over seven months ago.
ZMC on July 14 wrote to Impi snubbing an invitation to contribute to the on-going national debate on the future of press and media governance in the country.
Majonga said Impi was duplicating the mandate of ZMC. He likened the media panel to an ad hoc committee which Parliamentarians wanted to set up to duplicate the functions and tasks of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
“According to Section 249 of the Constitution, the functions of the ZMC include to uphold, promote and develop freedom of the media, to promote and enforce good practices and ethics in the media,” he said.
But in a letter addressed to Majonga dated July 24, Nyarota said Impi had noted the concerns raised by the ZMC regarding its terms of reference and seeming duplication of roles.
“In our view, your response would have been more appropriately channelled to the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services just after the announcement of the setting up of the Impi in December 2013,” he wrote.
“It is our belief that ZMC would have rendered itself, all media stakeholders and the public at large great service if it had voiced then the many issues that it now grandiloquently raises with Impi, with the Ministry itself. By now it is our belief that these would have been settled,” said Nyarota.
He said the mandate of Impi went beyond that of ZMC as outlined in Section 249 of the Constitution and in the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
“While there are some common aspects such as conducting research on issues related to freedom of the press, freedom of expression, we also note that regarding other aspects that may seem common in terms of the mandate of both Impi and ZMC, such as round ethics and regulation of the media and media diversity, the Act and the constitution go on to impose a ‘promotional’ role on the ZMC.”
He said it was not within Impi’s mandate to promote any of the aspects being looked at, but rather to simply enquire and asses the status quo of various aspects outlined in the panel’s terms of reference and to then further make recommendations on these issues.
“It is our belief that this is solely the mandate of ZMC and in that regard, we do not see duplication,” Nyarota said.
He said ZMC’s failure to contribute to the process was of no benefit to the public at large who stood to benefit from Impi’s findings.