NewsDay | Friday December 17 2021 Cheers to more years of advocacy BY DAVID MAKACHA I T seems like yesterday, but when I did the calculations, I realised it’s exactly 11 years ago when I was recruited as an intern. Eleven years ago, you were just 14 years old. Some would have called you a teenager in human metaphorical terms, but with the nature of the burden you carried even at that age, you would have been mistakenly labelled as an adult. This year you turned 25, having been conceived as a Trust on 27 August 1995, growing into a fully-fledged secretariat by August 1997. Today you are celebrating your 25th anniversary following the establishment of the secretariat in 1996. Congratulations MISA Zimbabwe. Indeed time flies. This has been a journey with trials and tribulations. Arrests, detentions, harassments (of journalists and media workers), the list goes on, as part and parcel of that expedition. Indeed, when history is written about the heroes who fought to have media pluralism, diversity, and independence, freedom of expression in Zimbabwe, your name shall be in the forefront. As you celebrate your 25th anniversary, take encouragement in the gains achieved so far. It is common knowledge that the journey has been through a thorny path. From the days of POSA (Public Order and Security Act) David Makacha during MISA Zimbabwe internship in 2010 to AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act), the whole tide was against you. Yet you fought tooth and nail to have media pluralism and diversity. You stood by your values - to promote free speech, equality, diversity, participation, accountability, responsibility and fairness. As mentioned earlier, media diversity, pluralism and independence are not a static destination, but a continuous process that constantly needs checks and balances. Today we take pride in that the nation is poised to have at least more than one (television) broadcaster, following From an average student to upper class and distinctions BY LYNETTE DUBE T HE year was 2012, when I had to undergo compulsory internship as part of my undergraduate degree studies. I remember how I settled for a media degree simply because my parents had insisted that it was time I went back to school after two years at work, which was initially meant to have been just a gap year. My thought process around studying Media and Society Studies at Midlands State University was that I would be confined in a newsroom, reading the 8pm news each evening on the state broadcaster. I stepped into the MISA Zimbabwe offices in Harare in March 2012, to begin a new chapter in my life. Unmotivated by the field of study, but excited about working for an organisation that was clearly one of the ‘big brothers’ in the media fraternity. I remember how some of my classmates had been green with envy at the opportunity that lay before me. It was after a message from the best student in my former class, that I then made a conscious decision that I had to make the most of my one-year stint with the organisation. My one-year stint at MISA Zimbabwe can best be explained by a glance at my academic transcript. From a mere average student whose grades in the first and second year were a mere means to progress to the next stage, I evolved into an A class student with upper first class and distinction grades from the time I began my internship. Not only did my grades im- Lynette Dube prove from that year, but I also met the most amazing colleagues who later became family. My supervisor Koliwe Majama was tough, but helped me discover that I could enjoy my studies and internship whilst making a positive change in communities. My perspective of the media landscape literally changed because of her. She would not tolerate any slacking. I remember how I initially thought she was just a difficult person to work with, but when I went out and started networking more, I got perspective on why she would constantly expect the best. I understood that the environment sometimes demands that we put in extra work, if we are to have any real positive impact. When days were hardest, Annie Musodza - best known by all the interns as 'Madam', was literally a mother. She was a pillar of strength. To this day, I always wonder how she could be that strong for herself and the hundreds of other interns that passed through her To page M8 the granting of television licenses to private players. We hope they will be on air soon. Most importantly, licenses have been issued to community radios, to complete the three-tier system of broadcasting that you and the general public have been clamouring for. We look forward to listening to Ntepe, Nyangani, Vemuganga, Matobo, to mention a few (of the community radio stations) broadcast for their local communities. Today, we at least celebrate that we have a Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression. All these notable achievements, in my view, would not have been possi- ble without MISA’s advocacy interventions. We are not there yet. A lot still needs to be done. Media polarisation remains a big challenge that you need to work on. Perhaps we have a bit of pluralism and without diversity. The fight is a continuous process. Media diversity, pluralism and independence is not a destination, but a continuous process requiring constant maintenance, checks and balances. As you celebrate your anniversary, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the internship opportunity. It was at MISA that my first newspaper article was published in the Standard's Sunday View Column. What a glorious Sunday it was. It was at MISA that I gained the confidence to write articles worthy of publishing in newspapers. It is at MISA Zimbabwe that I learnt the importance of expressing an opinion. One of the officers used to tell me that whether people agree or not, whether your opinion is judged right or wrong, the most important thing is to have your opinion heard. Today, I am a father. I still cherish my internship moments at MISA. The field events and community meetings were some of my best moments. That experience inspired me to pursue development studies which I am currently studying. Thank you MISA-Zimbabwe! Keep on offering interns opportunities to gain practical experience and M7 the chance to showcase their talents as you did to me. With more television stations and community radios coming, it also means more professional media practitioners are required. The onus is on you to train responsible journalists to supplement training from colleges and universities. We are looking forward to seeing vibrant community newspapers, community radios and TV stations in Zimbabwe. Our dream for Zimbabwe with free media, diverse, plural and independent media lives on. No time to sleep on duty. Cheers to more years of advocacy, information dissemination and digital transformation campaigns. Once again, congratulations on your 25th anniversary. _______________________________ David Makacha is a former intern with MISA Zimbabwe and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Development Studies in Belgium.