Legality of MIC challenged by Misa

Vincent Kahiya

THE Media and Information Commission which last week denied Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe a publishing licence may be improperly constituted and failing in its duty to deliver on its statu

tory obligations.



MIC chairman Dr Tafataona Mahoso in an interview yesterday defended his organisation saying it was improper to accuse it of failing to deliver.


The commission must, under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), devise a code of ethics and set up a trust fund.


In terms of Aippa, the MIC should consist of no fewer that five members but not more than seven, at least three of whom should be nominated by an association of media journalists and media houses. Media organisations have said they were not consulted when the commission was appointed.

In addition to Mahoso, the com-mission includes former Sunday Mail editor Pascal Mukondiwa, former Chronicle assistant editor Jonathan Maphenduka, University of Zimbabwe Media Studies head Rino Zhuwarara, Mkoba Teachers College principal Sephath Mlambo, and retired civil servant Alpinos Makoni.


This week the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) in its High Court application for a declaratory order that it is not a media organisation, averred that the MIC was not properly constituted as set out by the law.


Annexured to the Misa applications were affidavits by the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe and the Federation of African Women in Zimbabwe confirming that they were not consulted when the commissioners were appointed.



Three current executive members of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and two former executive members also signed affidavits to that effect.


Mahoso yesterday disputed this saying media organisations were consulted.

“It is improper to say the commission is not properly constituted,” said Mahoso. “Firstly it’s not true because there was consultation. At the time the commissioners were appointed there was no association of media owners. Journalists’ organisations were consulted,” he said.


Asked who out of the six commissioners were nominated by the journalists’ associations, Mahoso declined to answer saying that was the prerogative of the Information minister.


Mahoso said journalists had the misconception that the MIC was a journalists’ organisation, hence their making too many demands.


“The MIC is not a journalists’ organisation. We also regulate advertisers and filmmakers. That’s what it is,” he said.


Under the law the MIC is also expected to devise a code of ethics for the media and this has not happened. Mahoso said the delay had been caused by media houses not submitting their in-house codes to the MIC.


“We requested everybody to submit their codes but this has been an area of disappointment because this has not happened,” said Mahoso.


“By January we should have had copies and we asked those who did not have codes to adopt some from their associations and unions. We will convene meetings to analyse them before coming up with a code,” he said.


The MIC has also not set up a Media and Information Fund as required in the Act. The objects of the fund are to standardise mass media services and maintain high standards of quality in the provision of such services.

The fund should also assist in the training of persons in the provision of mass media services; and promote and contribute towards research and development in the field of information and mass media. It should also be used to promote public awareness on the right of access to information and protection of privacy.


According to the law all media organisations covered by Aippa must contribute to the fund in annual levies.


Mahoso said this would be in place in “a matter of weeks”.


“We are currently circulating the deed of trust among member for them to sign. It is a matter of weeks before we have a trust account,” he said.

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