M2 NewsDay | Friday December 17 2021

Brand MISA Zimbabwe @25: delivering
stakeholder values on free expression


N the historic month of August, 25 years ago, a great
brand, the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe was birthed.
It is therefore a humbling
and gratifying experience to be
at the helm of this institution
of great exploits that has consequentially and exceptionally
shaped the regulatory environment, media freedom, access to
information and safety and security of the media both in Zimbabwe and without.
In commemoration of this
strategic milestone, MISA Zimbabwe re-affirms its commitment to retain the leadership
mantle as it seeks to break new
and higher ground in tackling
the challenges of the future.
The commemorations are instructive and of great importance in these complex times
of the COVID-19 pandemic that
has disrupted the facets of life
that define humanity.
Looking at the journey of
the past 25 years, I’m glad to
attest that MISA has survived,
emerged as a market leader
and a brand of strength through
turning a multiplicity of challenges into opportunities.
In its time of existence, the
brand interfaced and intervened in the fragile and repressive regulatory frameworks, attacks on journalists, closure

and bombing of newspapers,
shrinking democratic space and
changing communications ecosystems.
Throughout, the organisation discharged itself beyond
reproach, setting and taking the
local media industry and regional standards to dizzy heights
while at it.
But the most uncelebrated,
yet defining achievements have
been the organisation’s ability
to incubate and facilitate for the
birth of its sister organisations
that have assumed their own life
in the process.
This speaks to being the key
player in the establishment of
the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe
(MAZ), The Voluntary Media
Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ),
The Media Centre, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) and
the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe (Now Media Monitors Zimbabwe).
In recognition of the role
played by the organisation, the
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), awarded MISA Zimbabwe with special recognition
as a strategic friend of the media on the 26th of September
2008. This was in recognition of
the splendid work done by the
organisation in assisting the union with the setting up of its secretariat.
Further, the organisation has
been instrumental in the lead-

Tabani Moyo
ership development for the industry through grooming the
young leaders of tomorrow.
The impact of MISA Zimbabwe has not remained landlocked by virtue of the country’s physical location. It is now
home to the Regional Secretariat hence the brand strength has
far reaching impact beyond our
To this, its contribution to the
solution of the challenges impacting on human kind, has
been acknowledged as it is now
part of the governing boards
of the Southern Africa Internet Governance Forum (SAIFG);
IFEX, a global network of more
than 100 organisations defending freedom of expression, and
the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD).

As such it is key to note some
of the indelible footprints from
the long journey travelled thus
A 100% success story
through the Media Defence Fund.
Pioneered the multistakeholder approach towards
internet governance in
September 2015.
Led stakeholders towards
the establishment of the
Police & Media Action Plan
in 2016.
criminal defamation in
Successfully challenged a
week long internet shutdown in 2019 through the
Influenced the explicit
guarantee of rights to privacy, media freedom &
freedom of expression and
access to information in
the Constitution through
Sections 57,61 and 62, respectively
Challenged the police to
stop attacks on the media
through the courts in 2020
leading to a court interdict
to that effect.
Pioneered the community radio movement in
Zimbabwe and the subsequent literacy on the subject matter.
Influenced the current
opening up of the broad-

casting industry having
run the Free the Airwaves
Campaign for almost two
decades challenging Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s monopoly.
Built a strong access to information movement in
Zimbabwe which brings
together citizens to actively participate in the
law making processes and
holding the government
Hosting the regional secretariat, thereby influencing
the agenda for media freedom, access to information
and expression in the region and beyond, among
As the brand MISA casts its
eyes far into the future, 10 years
ahead, it does so with the aim to
address the complexities borne
of the ever-changing contexts
in the realm of policy; media
economics; expression online
and offline; mis/ dis-information; safety and security of the
media; sustainability of the media, and media capture, among
other challenges.
This is due to the confluence
of a multiplicity of factors such
as the outbreak of the Covid-19
pandemic; stifling of online expression under the guise of controlling the pandemic by the
majority of Southern African
In addition, a lingering and
permeating threat exists on the
future of the media in the context of the intricate challenges
posed by pandemics, climate
change, natural disasters, gender mainstreaming and the role
of big tech companies vis-à-vis
the quest for supporting and

defending a resilient media.
Faced with these existential challenges, MISA Zimbabwe thus remains guided and
inspired by the long-standing
principles of its founding fathers
and mothers who met 30 years
ago and articulated their vision
and value systems, which culminated in the adoption of the
Windhoek Declaration in 1991.
Inspired by these principles
and values, MISA Zimbabwe’s
Board of Trustees chairperson,
Cris Chinaka on the 20th of August 2015, said:
“In rebranding MISA Zimbabwe, we are inspired by three
strategic and visionary outcomes that will see the organisation evolving into a knowledge institution, market leader
and an expertise-centred institution.”
In the next 10 years, the organisation is focused on remaining as a continuously learning
organisation that leads on many
fronts. We thus aim to be a cut
above the rest as we stand tall
on the shoulders of the giants
that successfully marshalled the
organisation through complex
times over the years through
their diligent leadership, at both
secretariat and governance levels.
The organisation is thus anchored on three major guiding
pillars: thought leadership; expertise and market leadership.
Happy silver jubilee! To many
more years of leadership!

Tabani Moyo is the regional
director of MISA and national
director of MISA Zimbabwe.

MISA Zimbabwe@25: the milestones
From page M1
Media Defence Fund
The Media Defence Fund falls within the scope
of the Legal Support programme area. This programme is designed to offer legal assistance to
journalists , media workers and institutions, that
are either arrested or detained during the course
of their lawful professional duties, and even extends to legal representation if the matter goes to
MISA Zimbabwe has over the years recorded numerous successes in the cases where it deployed
lawyers to offer legal representation to journalists
or media workers that would have been arrested
or unlawfully detained during the course of their
In the majority of the cases, deployed lawyers
have always managed to secure the release of the
detained journalists, with very few of the cases going to trial.
A recent case is that of Tawanda Muchehiwa,
nephew of ZimLive editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu,
following his arrest when the police raided
Mathuthu’s home in Bulawayo on 30 July 2020.
Muchehiwa had been missing since 30 July 2020
following his arrest by the police, with his then
known location being that of having been in their
custody at Bulawayo Central Police Station.
Following a habeas corpus application by MISA
Zimbabwe through lawyer Nqobani Sithole, High
Court judge Justice Makonese, on 1 August 2020,
ordered the police to investigate Muchehiwa’s
whereabouts and produce the outcome to the
Magistrates Court at Tredgold Building in Bulawayo within 72 hours.
Muchehiwa was later found that evening on 1
August 2020 around 2200hr after he was ‘dropped
off’ at his place of residence by suspected state security agents. On 4 August 2020, Muchehiwa subsequently appeared before the magistrates court
in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo in compliance with the directive by the High Court judge.
NewsDay journalist Rex Mphisa and Zimpapers
sales representative Charles Marerwa were on 27
August 2020 acquitted by magistrate Ania Chimweta on charges of violating the COVID-19 regulations.
The magistrate ruled that the State had failed to
prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt.
Mphisa and Marerwa were arrested on 15 May
2020 in Dulivhadzimu, in Zimbabwe’s southern

border town of Beitbridge. Mphisa and Marerwa,
who were on free bail, were represented by lawyer, Jabulani Mzinyathi, who was engaged by
MISA Zimbabwe.

impact on the exercise and enjoyment of the right
to media freedom, freedom of expression and citizens’ right to access to information as provided for
in the Constitution.

Free the Airwaves Campaign
The licensing of the first ever community radio
stations and commercial television stations is in
line with the African Charter on Broadcasting’s
three-tier system, comprising public, commercial
and community broadcasting , that MISA Zimbabwe, together with the Zimbabwe Association of
Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), has incessantly been advocating for over the years.
This is the result of our protracted and sustained Free the Airwaves Campaign, during which
MISA Zimbabwe established preparatory Community Radio Initiatives throughout the country. For
instance, the newly licensed Ntepe Manama Community Radio Trust in Matabeleland South province, is one such initiative.

2016, granted an application by MISA Zimbabwe
seeking confirmation of the fact that criminal defamation was no longer part of the law. MISA had
argued that Section 96 Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act (which had been used to arrest
several journalists), was invalid from the time of its
enactment in 2004. Criminal defamation was then
effectively struck off the statutes.
21 January 2019 ruled that the Minister of State in
the President’s Office Responsible for National Security does not have the authority to issue any directives in terms of the Interception of Communications Act.
The court ruling followed a court challenge
mounted by MISA Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights following directives issued by Minister Owen Ncube to shut down the
Internet in Zimbabwe.
The Interception of Communications Act is one
of 12 Acts directly administered by the President
of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The President does
have the right to assign any other Cabinet members to act on his behalf to administer any of these
12 Acts.
Justice Tagu agreed with Advocate Matinenga’s
submission that the Minister was not assigned
with any authority to issue such directives by the
President. He ruled that the directives issued in
the minister’s name be set aside as they were unlawful.
The decision, allowed mobile network operators and Internet service providers to restore full
Internet access including access to social media
applications and websites. Access to applications
such as WhatsApp and Facebook had been restricted since the morning of Tuesday, 15 January 2019.
24 April 2020 ordered the Ministry of Health and
Child Care and the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to promote citizens’
access to information pertaining to the Coronavirus. This followed an urgent chamber application
that was filed by MISA Zimbabwe, represented by
lawyer Rudo Magundani of Scanlen and Holderness. The Ministry of Health and Child Care and

Self regulation of the media
The first move in dismantling the restrictive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act which was the weapon of choice in harassing, threatening and arresting journalists which
saw the closure of the Daily News and The Tribune
newspapers, was through the establishment of
the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe.
MISA Zimbabwe spearheaded the nationwide
mobilisation and consultations with key stakeholders together with the Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists on the need for self-regulation of the
This culminated in the massive endorsement of
self-regulation of the media as a counter measure
against the then statutory Media and Information
The endorsements gave birth to the VMCZ as
the self-regulatory media body amid the increasing crescendo for the repeal of AIPPA and the subsequent death of the statutory Media and Information Commission.
Court cases
Another key component of the Legal Support programme, is that of strategic litigation.
This is informed by MISA Zimbabwe’s monitoring of media freedom violations and issuance of
alerts and analysis of the legal operating environment and the laws that are in place and how they

the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, were cited respectively as first
and second respondents in the matter.
Manzunzu on 20 April 2020 ordered the police
and other law enforcement agencies charged
with enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown not to arrest, detain or interfere “in any unnecessary way”
with the work of journalists. This followed an urgent chamber application that was filed by MISA
Zimbabwe (first applicant), and journalist Panashe
Makufa (second applicant), against the arrests and
harassment of journalists by police officers during
the lockdown.
The Commissioner-General of Police and the
Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) were cited,
respectively, as the first and second respondents
in the application filed by the applicants’ lawyer
Chris Mhike.
vour of MISA Zimbabwe interdicting Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and other cited respondents from
implementing a police warrant seeking information on the mobile phone operator’s transactions.
High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi
granted the provisional order in Harare on 24 July
2020 in favour of the applicants, MISA Zimbabwe,
first applicant, and the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Association (ZimRights), second applicant.
The court challenge was mounted to protect
the right to privacy as provided for in terms of Section 57 of the Constitution.
These milestones and achievement, among
several others, have seen MISA Zimbabwe assuming the regional leadership mantle following
my election as Chairperson of the MISA Regional
Governing Council while national director, Tabani
Moyo, now also doubles as the Regional Director.
The occasion of our 25th anniversary thus gives
us opportunity to reflect and chart and pave the
path on where we want to get – how and when.
Suffice to say, it has been a long arduous journey fraught with challenges and immense leadership responsibilities, but nonetheless with the results to show for it, 25 years later!

Golden Maunganidze,
Chairperson MISA Regional and MISA

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