MISA Raises Concern Over Opaque Operations Of Media Probe Committee

Harare, March 27, 2014 – The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) has raised concern over the opaque operations of a media enquiry panel which was set up last year to probe the information and media industry.

Last year, Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Jonathan Moyo set  up a 22-member Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) to examine professional standards and ethics in the media industry, a process which would advise the government on media policy.

Moyo said findings of the probe team would assist the government turn around the information sector into a coherent industry which effectively props national programmes.

But MISA, a respected media advocacy and lobby body this week expressed concern over the opaque operations of IMPI.

“….MISA-Zimbabwe notes with concern the deafening silence on the part of IMPI as to what exactly is happening three months after the appointment of some of its panelists in December last year. This silence, which does not foster IMPI’s accountability to its respective constituents, should not be allowed to continue as it does not inspire public confidence in the delivery of its mandate,” MISA chairperson, Njabulo Ncube, said in a statement seen by Radio VOP.

While welcoming the setting up of the probe team, MISA said the silence on its activities breeds fertile ground for speculative conspiracies and rumour mongering which threatens its credibility as an entity genuinely driven by the desire to develop the country’s media.

“IMPI owes its stakeholders and members of the public information on its structures, its terms of reference, plan of action, budget lines and implementation timelines, among other requirements critical to good corporate governance and accountability. Suffice to say the same accountability and right to access to information that the media demands in fulfilling their watchdog role, should be the hallmark of IMPI’s ethos in fulfilling its task,” MISA said.

The 22-member inquiry team is chaired by veteran journalist Geoff Nyarota and includes other media representatives and journalists such as Zimbabwe Independent editor Dumisani Muleya, Daily News editor Stanley Gama, Zimpapers editor-in-chief Pikirayi Deketeke, Financial Gazette editor-in-chief Hama Saburi, The Zimbabwe Mail editor, Constantine Chimakure and Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi among other commissioners.

Among its terms of reference, the team is expected to inquire into the welfare needs of workers and staffers in the information sector, assess and determine the policy, legal, technological, business, human resource, editorial and institutional adequacy and readiness in the information sector, among others.

Already, a secretariat has been set up and is housed at the Zimbabwe Film and Television School of Southern Africa.