Home » General » SPEAKER RULES AGAINST BAN ON CELLPHONES FOR JOURNALISTS IN ZIMBABWEAN PARLIAMENT

HARARE, March 4- Speaker of Zimbabwe’s National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, has ruled that journalists should be allowed to use cellphones while in the press gallery of the House, as barring them was an infringement of the journalists’ constitutional right to access to information.

His ruling here Tuesday came after security officials at Parliament ordered journalists accredited to cover the House to switch off their cellphones last month during the chaos which rocked the House when opposition MPs protested the absence of Cabinet Ministers for the question and answer session.

The move prompted the member of Parliament for Mabvuku-Tafara, James Maridadi of the opposition MDC-T party, to raise a point of order seeking clarification on whether Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders barred journalists from using cellphones while they are in the Press Gallery.

Mudenda, who later arranged a meeting with the aggrieved journalists and the director of security at Parliament, said every Zimbabwean, including members of the media, had a right to information that the State, agency or institution of government held at any level.

Mudenda said the Parliament Standing Rules should take note of technological advancements. “Our Standing Orders as they exists are silent on the use of electronic gadgets (by journalists in Parliament),” he said to applause from members from across the political divide.

“Journalists are no longer dependent on pens and their notebooks only but are also using electronic gadgets such as electronic notepads and cellphones as tools of the trade. The same electronic gadgets have made it possible for journalists to file their stories from wherever there is Internet connectivity,” he noted.

“There is need therefore for Parliament to make provisions for these developments in the Standing Orders to enable journalists to practise their profession efficiently and without hindrance.”

Mudenda, however, warned journalists against misusing their electronic gadgets whilst in the House.
Journalists use their cellphones or I-Pads to record audio and videos of proceedings or update live blogs for their publications.

SOURCE: NEW ZIANA

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