The Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA Zimbabwe) is one among eleven national Chapters born of the Windhoek Declaration of May 1991. The Windhoek declaration was driven by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and declared that an ‘independent, pluralistic and free press’ is essential for democracy and economic development.
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 ten (10) of the country’s provinces through its the advocacy committees; which are a membership structure recognised through the organisations constitution.
In the past two decades, MISA Zimbabwe has scored some successes in influencing media reforms. These successes have been achieved through people-centred advocacy for a conducive media environment and greater recognition of rights to freedom of expression and access to information for the people of Zimbabwe.
Some of the key successes include:
- The adoption of sections in the country’s constitution during the referendum of 2013, that fully recognised media freedom, freedom of expression and access to information in the new constitution. MISA-Zimbabwe through its advocacy committees carried out community meetings to raise awareness and mobilise communities to demand the inclusion of the sections
- Following years of its Campaign for Broadcasting diversity which calls for the opening up of the broadcasting sector to include community and commercial broadcaster , Zimbabwe has witnessed the partial opening up of the broadcasting sector through the licensing of two national and eight local commercial radio stations in 2013
- Through meetings with the relevant authorities which include the main political parties, parliamentarians and the police, MISA-Zimbabwe has seen reduction in the number of incidents of journalists/media violations and arrests harassment. [Statistics]
- 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. Over the years, a number of journalists had criminal charges of defamation levelled against them, an offence that undoubtedly limited them to carry out their duties effectively. Today defamation is handled as a civil case.