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Zimbabwe’s Media Organisation Petitions Elections Commission Over Media Monitoring In Forthcoming Elections

June 15, 2018

By Wallace Mawire

    The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe has petitioned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) through its Chairperson, Justice Priscilla Chigumba raising concern about the media monitoring committee.

Golden Maunganidze

Golden Maunganidze

 MISA Zimbabwe says that it  writes the letter to express its concerns about the Media Monitoring Committee.

  It says that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has a mandate in terms of Section 160K (1) of the Electoral Act

to monitor media coverage during election periods.

  According to the ZEC Roadmap for 2018 .

Harmonised Elections, this will be through the Media Monitoring Committee that was scheduled to be

established on the 10th of June 2018.

  The letter signed by Golden Maunganidze, MISA Zimbabwe National Chairperson, in terms of Section 160K (1), the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) as well as the Zimbabwe

Media Commission (ZMC), may at ZEC’s invitation, participate in media monitoring during the election

period.

 It is said that despite this discretion, it is advisable and desirable for ZEC to invite BAZ and ZMC to

participate in media monitoring.

   According to MISA, one reason why it is advisable for ZEC to collaborate with other stakeholders in media monitoring is

based on the fact that ZEC has no specialised knowledge of media related issues.

   “In view of the above, MISA Zimbabwe’s concern is that currently, both the BAZ and ZMC cannot

participate in media monitoring even if ZEC were to extend an invitation to them. This is because

neither BAZ nor the ZMC have any Boards comprising sitting board members or commissioners,

respectively,” MISA Zimbabwe noted.

   It says the absence of a valid BAZ Board was acknowledged in September 2017 by the High Court in the

matter between Dr Dish v Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and Obert Muganyura, HH 598-17.

   In that matter, the court unequivocally stated that BAZ had no board. It is reported that the ZMC is in a similar

predicament after the terms of ZMC’s previous commissioners expired in 2015.

  It is added that although interviews to replace the commissioners were held, no appointments were made.

  “No reasons have been given for the delay in appointing commissioners to the board. In the meantime, and to the

best of our knowledge, no appointments have been made since then,” MISA said.

  The media organisation added that section 160K (3) states that ZEC’s media monitoring role does not exclude any other entities from monitoring media coverage during election periods. The section acknowledges the existence of other stakeholders who can assist in monitoring media coverage during elections.

   MISA Zimbabwe said that it therefore, takes the opportunity to urge ZEC to consider partnering with stakeholders

from civil society that have the experience and expertise to monitor media coverage during election

periods.

  “Such a partnership would enhance ZEC’s abilities, boost public confidence and transparency

of the media monitoring process during this year’s elections,” Maunganidze said.

  A copy of the same letter was also made to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda (MP).

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