By Nkosana Dlamini

The Zimbabwe National Editors Union (ZINEF) and the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) have landed their full support to the proposed co-regulation of the media industry as well as the Media Practitioners Bill which will give life to the envisaged hybrid media body.

Both ZINEF and ZUJ are umbrella groups of local journalists who work for the country’s polarised state and private media industry.

At a Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) organised Stakeholder Engagement on the media law reform agenda in Harare Wednesday, ZINEF national coordinator Njabulo Ncube expressed support for media co-regulation.

“ZINEF’s position is that we support co-regulation in which there is a clear regulatory body with representatives from the industry and the state, and agreed rules of the game.

“We have the constitution, the ZMC Act which limits us to demand the full cow, we now accept the fact that we can just have the cow’s head since this is a compromise,” he said.

Ncube said the proposed Media Practitioners’ Bill “must facilitate better practice of journalism rather than dwell on punitive action against journalists”.

He added, “ZINEF also seeks a clear working relationship between a state body which is ZMC and an industry driven regulatory body.

“This will allow us as the media industry to determine who is and who is not a journalist.”

Speaking at the same occasion, ZUJ secretary general Perfect Hlongwane said co-regulation grants journalists the chance to police themselves.

“When we are given an opportunity to regulate ourselves, we are also able to not be punitive but deal with issues in a manner that is probably understandable.

“We see that co-regulation is a compromise worth our pursuit…” Hlongwane said.

“The position is clear that we are in support of co-regulation.

“We are under no confusion whatsoever and we speak without any fear of contradictions with regards of how important professionalization of the craft is concerned.

“We are the journalists and we think that we must be allowed to say the things that we want to see happening in the industry…co-regulations speaks to the small scores that we have registered so far.

Hlongwane said the Media Practitioners Bill “speaks to the industry aspirations s and expectations”.

The proposed formation of the media council to sit over complaints brought against local publications will be a function of the Media Practitioners Draft Bill.

Media lawyer Chris Mhike said the proposed law will see ZMC delegate the complaints handling duties to the Media Council while ZMC assumes the appellant role.

Currently, the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, a private organisation, is handling complaints from the public.

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