South African Press Ombudsman, Joe Thloloe, has warned that the Zimbabwean media risks being left behind in the country's new dispensation because "it is yet to get to grips with new political environment", writes our correspondent.
He said the formation of an inclusive government comprising the two MDC formations and Zanu PF poses serious professional challenges for the Zimbabwean media, which was used to partisan reportage.
Thloloe was speaking on the role of the media in transitional states in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city recently.
Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe worrying thing is the media is not capturing the changing texture of the Zimbabwean situation. It is an exciting period. The transition is never ending and what is critical is to learn how to cope with change. Its back to basics (of the profession) as that is the only way to cope with change. This is the time to question everything that we do. Transition does not only happen at government levels but it should also happen in the newsroom,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Thloloe.
Drawing comparisons of the Zimbabwean situation with South AfricaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s challenges during its transition from apartheid to democracy, Thloloe said ZimbabweÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s own transition phase required its media to revisit the ethical and professional demands of the journalism profession as opposed to reporting in the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œpretty predictableÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â fashion that preceded the establishment of the inclusive government.
Thloloe was invited by the Media Institute of Southern Africa to co-facilitate the two-day workshop on Reportage in Transitional States.
MISA-Zimbabwe Chairperson Loughty Dube said the workshop could not have come at a more opportune moment for Zimbabwean journalists following the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and subsequent formation of the inclusive government.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Dube said this called for introspection on the part of the media to considerÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â the challenges and responsibilities it faces in the transition period.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
He said MISA Zimbabwe had over the last two years consistently committed itself to a number of key principles concerning media reform in Zimbabwe. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œGiven that there is a semblance of transition that is taking place in Zimbabwe and with the establishment of an inclusive government, the opportunities for media reform may be within reach, it is necessary to reiterate some of these principles.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚ÂÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â
MISA Zimbabwe, he said, remains committed to self-regulation of the media as opposed to statutory regulation imposed in terms of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and would also continue to press for a constitutional provision that explicitly guarantees media freedom.