What We Do
Over the past twenty (20) years, MISA has positioned itself as the primary advocate for media freedom and freedom of expression in southern Africa. MISA programmes have grown and now have a global outreach especially through the media violations monitoring programme. As a result, MISA’s work and agenda have also been taken up by many civic organisations in the region, thereby creating consciousness of the linkages between media freedom, freedom of expression and broader human rights and democratic campaigns.
From 2000 to 2002, MISA Zimbabwe’s work centered on lobbying parliament and policy makers on reforming media law in the country. In late 2002, MISA Zimbabwe realised that although it needed to continue it’s lobbying and advocacy efforts at a policy level, the situation in the country also demanded more effective strategies. We then decided to merge the policy intervention with raising public awareness on media issues.
In addition to public awareness activities, MISA Zimbabwe has also been involved in litigation and capacity building of lawyers through its legal support programme. In 2002, the chapter established a Media Defence Fund (MDF); whose objectives are to promote and protect media freedom by offering legal assistance to media practitioners and media institutions. Many journalists arrested under AIPPA and POSA have been assisted by the MDF.
The fund has also assisted the ANZ and IJAZ constitutional cases. In June of the same year, we launched the Media Lawyers Network (MLN) whose purpose is to ensure that there is a pool of lawyers who are there to protect freedom of expression and freedom of the media wherever it is threatened. We have set up regional MLN structures in the 4 major towns. The chapter has also been building the capacity of these lawyers through information provision on media laws and best practice.
Another major activity within MISA Zimbabwe is media monitoring. The Media Monitoring Unit monitors media freedom violations on a daily basis and compiles data and statistics on these violations. A Media Alert Digest, chronicling media freedom violations in a particular month, is produced electronically every month. MISA has set up the Zimbabwe Journalists under Fire campaign to complement its monitoring work.
Although the alerts we issue help expose media freedom violations, the issuing of an alert does not guarantee the protection of journalists and other media workers. Practical follow up is required to forward the momentum and opportunities created by action alerts. The campaign continues to support retrenched journalists.
Ten years later, in 2012, many people in Zimbabwe were still not aware of issues pertaining to freedom of expression and the right to information. We noticed that it was important for MISA Zimbabwe to begin building a critical mass around media issues. People in Zimbabwe need to demand for their rights to freedom of expression; however, they can only do this if they are aware of laws that impinge on their rights.
MISA Zimbabwe works around five programme areas, anchored on the two intervention pillars of the regional Strategic Partnership Programme III (SPP 3) namely, Media Freedom Monitoring and Research and Advocacy campaigns. The five areas comprise:
- Campaign for Freedom of Expression and the Right to Information– this focuses on promoting legal reform and the introduction of new legislation to improve the protection and implementation of media freedom and the right to information.
- Media Freedom Monitoring – this has been MISA’s key function since 1992. The monitoring of media freedom violations and development and the issuing of action alerts provides MISA with an important advocacy platform.
- Campaign for Broadcasting Diversity and ICT’s -under this programme, MISA wants to promote an open system of broadcasting licensing, editorial independence and the introduction of a three-tier system of broadcasting comprising public, commercial and community broadcasting.
- Media Support– this aims to promote and enhance media accountability and professionalism. MISA seeks to create awareness on the need for a code of ethics and self-regulatory bodies. MISA is also seeking to promote professionalism in the media through media training initiatives.
- Legal Support – this consists of providing funds for legal assistance to media practitioners and institutions with the aim of protecting freedom of expression.