Media Allience of ZImbabwe (MAZ) has elected Tabani Moyo as chairperson of the media freedom advocacy network with immediate effect. Moyo, who is the Director of the Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), takes over from Media Monitors Director Patience Zirima. He will be deputised by Gender and Media Connect (GMC) National Director Abigail Gamanya.
In handing over the leadership role of the Alliance, Zirima said that she is optimistic that the new leadership will steer forward advocacy for genuine media reforms and that while strides have been made, there is still a lot of work to be done.
"It was a great honour to lead the collective efforts of media professional and support organisations in defending freedom of expression in Zimbabwe," said Zirima. "It has not been an easy road. The media in Zimbabwe is at crossroads and reforms are long overdue."
Zirima said that although the collective efforts of MAZ have resulted in some level of success, media stakeholders need to continue pressing both state and non state actors to ensure that citizens enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed rights to access information and to free expression.
"Over the years, MAZ has collectively succeeded in advocating for the entrenchment of journalistic and media freedoms within the country's Constitution, lobbied for the opening up of the broadcasting sector, resulting in the entry of new radio stations. MAZ has also collectively championed the media law reform process, by contributing towards the government led Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) and creating an alternative media policy framework based on the Constitution and international best practise," Zirima said.
"Going forward, the advocacy priorities for the Alliance should centre on emerging threats to media freedom, including media sustainability, cyber security, media capture and the safety of practitioners."
Moyo said his immediate task is to ensure that the ongoing media law reform process will be genuine and that the country will have democratic media laws.
"We will not accept piecemeal changes to draconian and outdated laws," said Moyo. "Our positions and demands remain unchanged. The ongoing media law reform process should not be seen as an attempt to apply lipstick on a frog nor should it be reduced to a redundant process that will produce carbon copies of the old laws," he said.
"MAZ has already raised concern on some challenges that have characterized this process and while we continue to engage the relevant Ministries and Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, we will keep our eyes on the ball and ensure that we are not going to be used as pawns in an illegitimate and insincere process."
"Beyond the media law reform process, we are going to be seized with other media freedom issues, including but not limited to digital rights, a sustainable media, strengthening media professionalism and the transformation of all state controlled media into being genuine public service media."