As we commemorate the 2015 World Press Freedom Day, ZACRAS recognizes the important role of a free media in promoting development and democracy the world over.
It goes without saying that a free media assists communities to access information freely and express themselves on crucial issues pertinent to their day to day living.
Through a free and responsive media, interaction between the state and citizens is enhanced thereby enabling participation of citizens in promoting accountability and transparency.
This is especially with reference to community based media which is available and more accessible to communities.
In commemorating this yearâ€™s WPFD, ZACRAS however bemoans the manner in which media has been a victim in many developed and developing countries, amongst them Zimbabwe and France, as evidenced by the attacks on media practitioners.
ZACRAS remains concerned that the broadcasting sub-sector has remained incomplete as a result of the absence of licensed community radios.
Â It is saddening that Zimbabwe remains one of very few countries in the region without community radios that are licenced, an area which needs attention as a matter of urgency.
It is only through a diversified media that citizens choices are enhanced and promoted.
The recently produced Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) report, itself a product of wide consultation with communities in Zimbabwe, should be taken seriously with its recommendations and findings respected.
The need to democratise broadcasting media cannot be overemphasised and we urge the Government of Zimbabwe to licence community radios.
In a bid to safeguard and promote media interests in Zimbabwe, ZACRAS calls for the repealing of laws which have been used to negate media freedom.
These laws include the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), Broadcasting Services Act, Interception of Communications Act, Official Secrets Act and Criminal Codification and Reform Act.
The repealing of these laws will play a significant role in promoting the much needed access to information and freedom of expression- which are key principles of a free media.
It is disheartening that the 2015 WPFD commemorations come at a time when the media in Zimbabwe is facing serious sustainability challenges.
Â As such, we urge all relevant stakeholders to come up with a policy framework which supports a more sustainable media in Zimbabwe.