MEDIA and Information Commission (MIC) chairman Tafataona Mahoso has claimed the Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe Chapter (Misa-Zimbabwe) is a foreign mass media organisation in the
business of selling news.
In his sworn affidavit opposing a Misa-Zimbabwe High Court application for a declaration that it is not a mass media house, Mahoso offered reasons why Misa-Zimbabwe should register with the MIC.
He said Misa-Zimbabwe was “really not Zimbabwean” and should comply with the laws of the country.
“It (Misa) is an extension of a foreign body housed out there in Namibia and funded by overseas donors,” said Mahoso.
“Such a foreigner must be made to respect our law first and foremost. Such a foreigner must not be allowed to engage in acts that subvert our laws by using donor funds to incite law-abiding citizens to defy the law,” he said.
He said Misa-Zimbabwe also fell within the definition of a mass media house because it sold its products through third parties.
“It is public knowledge that applicant (Misa-Zimbabwe) has been publishing and selling some of its media products regularly to the Zimbabwean public through such print media as the Independent, the Standard and the Financial Gazette,” he said.
Annexured to Mahoso’s affidavit as evidence of the said products are editorial contributions written by Misa-Zimbabwe officers Takura Zhangazha and Rashweat Mukundu in their personal capacities. By inference, Mahoso suggests in his affidavit that Misa-Zimbabwe benefited financially from articles written by Mukundu and Zhangazha.
Mahoso also said Misa-Zimbabwe was defying the law and encouraging others to do the same.
“The applicant has advised, for example, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd (ANZ) to defy the registration requirements of the Act with the result which is now common cause; the newspaper had to be shut down for operating illegally,” Mahoso said.
“Of course applicant teaches or preaches what it practises. It also defied the law by continuing with its operations outside the law.
“Like its obedient student, the ANZ, it now approaches this honourable court to rubber stamp its standing decision that it cannot be bound by a piece of legislation which it considers unconstitutional,” he said.
Mahoso said Misa-Zimbabwe was a mass media provider on a “scale larger than all the other media players in the country as it is engaged in both print and electronic forms of the mass media”.
It is not clear which electronic media Mahoso thinks Misa runs.