Harare, July 27, 2014- Kumbirai Mafunda, a senior project officer for communications and information at the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights was Saturday elected Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe Chapter board chairman.
He takes over from Njabulo Ncube, deputy editor of the Southern Eye newspaper, popularly known as Mdala Wethu in media circles.
Mafunda who will be deputised by Bulawayo based journalist Lifaqane Nare pledged to accelerate the battle for freedom of the media during his reign. Martha Mashonganyika with wide experience in civilsociety and media accounting projects was relected Finance Officer.
“I take this mandate to serve Misa well for the next three years.
“I say it before you today that I will be done with my contribution in one term.
“I will not go for a second term,” he said in an acceptance speech after Misa’s elective annual general meeting held yesterday in Harare.
ZiFM Stereo news editor Kelvin Jakachira and Germany Press Agency Harare correspondent Columbus Mavhunga were elected committee members ahead of fellow journalists Annahstacia Ndlovu and Valentine Maponga.
While celebrating various successes registered during his term, Ncube decried delays in alignment of media laws to the new Constitution.
“For as long as there is no urgent holistic review of the legislative framework in accordance with the new Constitution, the implementation of the new Constitution will remain mired in confusion and subject to individual interpretation of the law,” he said.
“This untenable situation is evidenced by the arrest early this year of ANZ Group Editor Stanley Gama and reporter Fungisai Kwaramba under the criminal defamation laws…”
The Constitutional Court recently struck down criminal defamation law, a move hailed by media pressure groups as a major step towards press freedom in Zimbabwe.
However, Ncube said the country should lobby for the abolishment of all laws which criminalise journalism if the court’s ruling is to become Zimbabwe’s true legacy to freedom of expression.
“While the decline in the number of cases pertaining to the harassment and arrests of journalists is commendable, these laws still remain firmly entrenched in our statutes and can still be used to punish not just journalists alone, but citizens exercising their right to freedom of expression,” Ncube said.
The committee members promised to contribute towards gender parity and media plurality.
The elections described as free and fair were presided over by respected veteran journalist Cris Chinaka and journalist lawyer/ZMC commissioner Chris Mhike together with officers from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) who provided logistical support.