MISA Zimbabwe on 20 July 2018 filed an urgent chamber application with the High Court in Harare challenging the constitution of the ZEC-led Media Monitoring Committee.
In terms of section 160K of the Electoral Act, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), has a mandate to monitor media coverage during the electoral period.
It is MISA Zimbabwe’s submission that ZEC does not have the resources or the capacity to effectively monitor media during this year’s elections. This incapacity is because ZEC is grossly underfunded and lacks the technical capacity to monitor media coverage.
The Constitution gives ZEC the discretion to partner with the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) in the monitoring of media coverage during the electoral period.
ZEC has chosen to partner with ZMC and BAZ, but this too is problematic, as the two bodies do not have the capacity. In addition, neither of the two organisations has a board in place. This means both bodies are, therefore, not legally constituted, and cannot be valid members of the Media Monitoring Committee.
In light of the above MISA Zimbabwe seeks an order that will compel ZEC to institute processes that lead to the proper constitution of the Media Monitoring Committee.
Where need be, MISA Zimbabwe believes that it is in the interest of media rights if non-state actors that have the capacity are included in the monitoring committee.
It is MISA Zimbabwe’s submission that it is in the interests of a healthy media environment for ZEC to collaborate with other civil society organisations that do have the resources and technical capacity to successfully monitor media coverage during this electoral period.
More information to come as this legal process develops.