HARARE – Legislators this week spent time debating the motion moved by MDC legislators to align laws to the new Constitution.
The new Constitution which was passed in March after the referendum.
The motion was moved by Innocent Gonese and Jessie Majome in the National Assembly, while in the Senate it was introduced by Senators James Makore and Misheck Marava.
Zanu PF MPs opposed the motion arguing that it was not an urgent matter.
Most of the new MPs, mainly from Midlands Province, including Owen Ncube (Gokwe-Kana), Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Gokwe Nembudziya) and Daniel Mackenzie Ncube (Zhombe) presented their maiden speeches.
The speeches were mainly centred on agriculture and developmental issues.
All the MPs denounced sanctions imposed by western countries on President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet ministers.
Amend Aippa Settlement Chikwinya, MDC legislator for Mkoba, called for the amendment of Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
He also called for the amendment of the Broadcasting Services Act, Interception of Communications Act, Official Secrets Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and other statutes which have a bearing on media freedom, access to information and freedom of expression.
“It should be noted that the Lancaster House Constitution had no provision dealing with the freedom of media,” Chikwinya said.
“It only contained the right to freedom of expression. The right to freedom of media has been ushered in by section (61) of the new Constitution, which freedom includes protection of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources of information.
“In the Lancaster House constitution the journalists’ sources of information were not protected and the journalists could be compelled to disclose their sources of information.
“The protection of journalists’ sources of information helps citizens to communicate ideas and other information freely without fear of having their identity divulged in cases where they wish their identity to remain unknown.
“This provision is vital as it necessitates the inclusion of whistle-blower protection in the country’s laws.”
Chikwinya said the licensing procedures should only be for purposes of controlling air waves.
Therefore, the State is not entitled to deny broadcasting and other media licences except on reasons associated with regulation of airwaves and other forms of signal distribution.
He said the Constitution also provides that all State-owned media must be free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcast or other communications, be impartial, and afford fair opportunity for presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.
“It is yet to be seen whether State-owned media is going to be impartial and operate independent of the ruling political party,” he said.
“Citizens of Zimbabwe can now approach courts of law if State-owned media remain biased and partisan.”
Chikwinya welcomed the initiative taken by the minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Jonathan Moyo of engaging the private and public media through visits he has undertaken to various media houses since taking office in August.
Maiden speech Daniel Mackenzie Ncube made his maiden speech in Parliament, speaking about the agriculture and farming season.
“We have in the past few years witnessed the phenomenal growth in tobacco production from as low as 40 million kilogrammes in 2009-10 agricultural seasons to 200 million kilogrammes last season; let’s support our farmers,” Ncube said.
He said Zanu PF policies of empowering indigenous people will restore the bread basket status of the country by funding agriculture timeously.
Introduce youth training On Thursday the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth and Indigenisation committee chaired by Wadyajena received oral evidence from the George Magosvonge, permanent secretary in the ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment.
He said his ministry had submitted a budget to treasury demanding the resumption of the national youth training programme countrywide.
“The national youth service training programme is now in our Constitution and we have submitted our budget proposal on that issue and we are asking for legislators support on the allocation when you debating the budget,” Magosvonge said.
Enock Porousingazi, Zanu PF MP for Chipinge South, asked Magosvonge when his ministry was going to be starting the national youth service programme.
He said he was looking forward to the re-opening of the Border Gezi Training Centre in Mashonaland Central Province saying he wanted to see many youths being enrolled at these colleges to learn the history of the country.
Meanwhile Parliament has adjourned to December 3.