Foreword 2013
Reflecting on media freedom in SADC


n 2013, Namibia became the first African country
to be ranked within the top 20 in Reporters Without
Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index. While this
number 19 spot is proof that it is possible to
achieve high levels of media freedom in Africa on
par with or better than many Western countries, we
should not be complacent. There is still much work
to do to ensure that Namibian citizens are able to
fully realize their rights to freedom of expression
and access to information.
The year for the rest of southern Africa has not
been so positive. The theme for MISA’s annual
report on the state of media freedom in southern
Africa, So This Is Democracy?, was ‘media behind
bars’. Globally, 2013 was labeled the second
worst year on record for jailed journalists, and in
southern Africa, MISA recorded many cases of
authorities arresting, detaining and interrogating
journalists, in some cases also confiscating their
equipment. For example, in September 2013 MISA
Angola Chairperson Alexandre Neto Solombe was
arrested along with two other journalists after they
interviewed a group of youths recently released
after being arrested for participating in an antigovernment demonstration the previous day.
The three journalists were allegedly interrogated,
manhandled by police and detained for five hours
without charge.
Another low point of 2013 was the disturbing
attacks on journalists in Tanzania. Chairperson
of the Tanzania Editors Forum Absalom Kibanda
was brutally assaulted in March by unknown
assailants brandishing weapons and threatening
to kill him. Kibanda suffered multiple head injuries
and ultimately lost his left eye. Radio journalist Issa
Ngumba also died in suspicious circumstances;
his body was discovered in a forest in January and
showed signs of torture and gunshot wounds.
In the face of these grim events, MISA and her
Chapters worked tirelessly to push for greater legal

and physical protection for journalists and citizens
throughout the region and to create an enabling
environment for journalists and ordinary citizens
to enjoy the free exercise of their rights to freedom
of expression and access to information without
fear of legal or physical attacks, or government
MISA Chapters conducted workshops and
training sessions throughout the region on such
diverse topics and skills areas as promoting good
governance and accountability, election reporting,
and Internet training.
MISA Swaziland mobilised media practitioners and
members of civil society groups to deliver petitions
to two Ministers calling for an end to media freedom
violations and the repeal of 32 restrictive media
The Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression
and Access to Information in Africa appointed
MISA Malawi the secretariat of the campaign to
decriminalise free speech in Malawi. MISA Malawi
subsequently worked with several Malawian
stakeholders to draft a Bill to decriminalise free
speech in Malawi.
Several Chapters held media awards, including
Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the
annual Regional Children’s Reporting Awards were
held successfully.
MISA continued to build upon its reputation as a
regional leader in the generation of research on the
state of media freedom and access to information
in the region. MISA released several major annual
publications, including So This is Democracy?,
Government Secrecy in an Information Age: Report
on Open & Secretive Public Institutions in Southern
Africa, and African Media Barometer surveys from
Zambia and South Africa. MISA collaborated
with regional partners to produce a booklet titled
‘Access to Information – examining progress in
Africa’, providing an assessment on the state of

access to information in 14 African countries. MISA
also partnered with Privacy International to conduct
a survey on freedom of expression in cyberspace,
which is part of an ongoing project to help media
workers protect themselves online.
All of this research concluded that there is still a
long way to go before journalists and citizens in
southern Africa can safely and freely exercise
their rights to freedom of expression and access
to information. There is a lot of work still to be
done, but as we embark on our Fourth Strategic
Partnership Programme (SPPIV) in 2014, MISA will
be there to do it.

Management and Programme Implementation
During 2013 the primary focus of the Regional
Secretariat was to facilitate the planning and
development of MISA’s SPPIV and to secure the
financial resources that would allow the organisation
to implement its suggested short-term (four-year)
The SPPIV programme was well-received by MISA’s
main funding partners as it directly responded to a
number of concerns raised in the 2012 and 2013
reviews of the organisation. The most notable
concerns expressed included the need for further
streamlining of governance structures, reduction
of chapter dependency on the regional basket
fund and the need to look towards sustainability.
In constructing its long-term, 10-Year Strategic
Framework (2024), MISA was striving towards an
organisational framework well suited for long-term
sustainability with a strong rights-based approach
and governance focus.
The reform and reorientation outlined in this
overarching strategy will, in a carefully stated
process, empower the regional secretariat to fulfill
its role as a facilitating and supporting structure
and secretariat to MISA National Chapters. This
will include an empowerment of the chapters to
be guided through an organization development

process from having an organisational management
audit, developing a strategic plan and building
capacity in its (management) team. This process
will initiate a funding regime with support to a basic
structure at national level and a pool of funding
available in the regional secretariat for applications
from the Chapters based on their strategic plan and
for pursuance of MISA’s advocacy goals.

Remembering Madiba
In 2013 MISA joined the world in mourning the loss
of a truly remarkable man and one of the greatest
human rights defenders, Nelson Mandela.
Mandela said:
“A critical, independent and investigative
press is the lifeblood of any democracy.
The press must be free from state
interference. It must have the economic
strength to stand up to the blandishments
of government officials. It must have
sufficient independence from vested
interests to be bold and inquiring without
fear or favour. It must enjoy the protection
of the constitution, so that it can protect
our rights as citizens.”
MISA will continue to be inspired and driven by
the legacy of Mandela’s tireless pursuit of justice,
human dignity and freedom as we fight for an
environment where citizens are free and able to
express themselves and claim their right to access

Zoé Titus
Regional Director


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