MISA-Zimbabwe has dismissed a story in the government-controlled Sunday
which said the group was setting up a Media Council against
government advice, writes Torby Muturikwa.
In a statement, acting chairperson Loughty Dube said the Media Council is not a political project as stated in the story

He said the lack of appreciation of the work of a Media Council by The Sunday Mail was saddening and unfortunate as all media would benefit from self-regulation.

Dube said MISA-Zimbabwe dismissed allegations of external political interests in this project as well as allegations that Misa-Zimbabwe is a foreign organization.

"Such allegations can only be made by those who are ignorant of how organizations like MISA are constituted and how they operate. MISA-Zimbabwe fails to see how the interests of foreigners would, in all fairness, be served by a body such as a Media Council.”

He pointed out that there is no law in Zimbabwe that stops professionals from forming a professional body to enhance their accountability to society.

"MISA-Zimbabwe notes with concern the divide and rule tactics that are being employed by the government to scuttle work towards the setting up of a voluntary Media Council.

"For a government that has always accused the media of being irresponsible, supporting the voluntary media council is the only way to show commitment to principles of media accountability and professionalism, while protecting fundamental media and freedom of expression rights."

The unsigned February 17 article in the Sunday Mail said Misa-Zimbabwe was a foreign organisation which had a political agenda as it had support from the West.

The launch of the much-awaited Media and Complains Council was delayed last month after government pressured the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) to defer the launch.

The Media Council is a project of the Media Alliance whose members are MISA-Zimbabwe, ZUJ, Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, Editors Forum, Federation of African Media Women in Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) and the Zimbabwe Association of Editors.