EISA Zimbabwe: Mass media engagement

Activities 2011-2014

ZEC Commissioners at the official Opening
EISA and ZEC hold election reporting training for the media

October 2012

EISA AND ZEC-EISA conducted a two day intensive training workshop on election reporting for the public and private media on 30th to 31st October 2012. A total of 45 participants consisting of 39 males and 6 females were drawn from the print and electronic media. These included the Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) Alpha Media Holdings; the Financial Gazette; Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, which runs four radio and two television stations. Freelance journalists were also invited to participate at the workshop.

Journalists being trained on what to look out for during the pre-voting, voting and post-voting process for a better reporting

The journalists' skills in reporting on the pre-election, polling and post-election phases of the electoral process were sharpened through this workshop. The journalists were also introduced to international instruments pertaining to the regulation of the role of the media in elections as well as to media ethics by Mr. Blessing Jonah, a media expert from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and two internationally renowned media experts. These were Dr. Raymond Louw who holds many positions in South Africa including Deputy Chairman of the Media Freedom Committee of the South African National Editors' Forum, Vice President of PEN South Africa, Chairman of Misa- SA, Council Member of the Freedom of Expression Institute of SA and Chairman of the SA Press Council and Dr. Joe Thloloe who is South Africa's Press Ombudsman. In addition, ZEC used the opportunity to update workshop participants on the contents of the Electoral Amendment Act 2012 which came into effect recently.

Round Table with Media Decision Makers

July 2012

On 20 July 2012 EISA held a successful roundtable table between the Executives and Editors of all media houses in Zimbabwe at the ZEC Head office. The meeting was also attended by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). This was the first meeting of this kind and it has contributed positively to the building of strong relationships between the media and ZEC. The meeting looked into among other questions: (a) What is the role of the Media in a polarised political environment such as in Zimbabwe? (b) How can the media balance between its duty to inform and its business interests? Put otherwise, what needs to be done to ensure that the Media fulfils its mandate and complies with media ethics instead of focusing on "headline driven news" in pursuance of profits?

Following discussions on the role of the media in elections and the identification of problematic areas in this regard, concrete proposals were tabled and agreed on. For example:

  1. An agreement by ZEC and the Media Houses to share information on all ZEC activities using a group/block mailing system for wider publicity.
  2. Collaboration to enhance the quality of ZEC website. Here the Media has volunteered to use its on-line editors and IT expertise to provide capacity of the ZEC IT Department (for free) on how to improve the Website.
  3. The media and ZEC have agreed to work together to link the ZEC website to their websites and to other local and international websites which have more traffic so as to ensure a higher number of visitors to the ZEC website and for purposes of reaching a wider audience on electoral process.
  4. Agreement to have a follow up meeting between the Media and ZEC to work out modalities on providing space in the case of print media for ZEC to write on electoral matters and also to provide airtime by the electronic media for the same purpose.
  5. The Media will communicate with ZEC and EISA on the areas which should be covered by the on-coming training workshop for the journalists so as to ensure that all aspects are covered and that the training workshop enhances the journalists understanding of the electoral process and how they should report during the referendum and the elections.

ZEC has also been invited by the Zim papers to utilised airtime on its newly opened radio station for voter education. There will be a meeting on how this is to be done including the frequency of the programmes ZEC may come up with.

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