The Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe), is one of the organisation’s eleven national chapters in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) whose regional office is in Windhoek, Namibia. The umbrella organisation, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), was officially launched in 1992, primarily to promote free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media as envisaged by the Windhoek Declaration of May 1991.
MISA Zimbabwe was registered as a Trust on 27 August 1995 and established a fully-fledged secretariat in August 1997. Over the years, MISA Zimbabwe has decentralised its work, initially run by the Secretariat, to 10 of the country’s provinces through its Advocacy Committees. These are based on a membership structure recognised through the organisations constitution.
MISA Zimbabwe’s work is centred on promoting and advocating for the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media. Our work is guided by the Constitution of Zimbabwe and regional and international instruments, among them the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, Windhoek Declaration, Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression, African Charter on Broadcasting and African Platform for Access to Information.
Main aims and achievements
The organisations goals are primarily achieved through lobbying key stakeholders, notably the Parliament of Zimbabwe through its relevant Portfolio Committees. Other key stakeholders include policy makers, relevant ministries and regulatory bodies. These include the ministries of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services and that of Information Communication Technologies, and regulatory bodies such as the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and the Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe. In the past two decades, MISA Zimbabwe has successfully lobbied for media reforms. These successes have been achieved through people-centred advocacy for a conducive media environment and greater recognition of the rights to freedom of expression and access to information for the people of Zimbabwe.
Major achievements include:
- The adoption of progressive and explicit constitutional provisions on media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information as now provided for in the country’s 2013 Constitution.
- Following years of its Campaign for Broadcasting Diversity which calls for the broadcasting sector to include public, community and commercial broadcasting, Zimbabwe has witnessed the partial opening of the sector through the licensing of two national and eight provincial commercial radio stations.
- Following a Constitutional Court application by MISA Zimbabwe, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that Section 96 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, which made defamation a criminal offence, be struck off.
MISA Zimbabwe also runs a Media Defence Fund through which legal assistance is provided to media practitioners and institutions with the aim of protecting media freedom and freedom of expression. It caters for litigation and legal assistance for journalists and media houses that find themselves confronted with law suits, arrests and violations of their rights.