MISA is an advocate advocate for media freedom and freedom of expression in southern Africa. MISA programmes have grown and now have a global outreach especially through the media violations monitoring programme.
As a result, MISA’s work and agenda have also been taken up by many civic organisations in the region, thereby creating consciousness of the linkages between media freedom, freedom of expression and broader human rights and democratic campaigns.
The founding of MISA was triggered by the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media in Africa of 1991.
The MISA Education and Production Trust was registered on 12 October 1994 in Windhoek, Namibia, by a group of activist media practitioners.
The aim of the Trust is to promote and strengthen a pluralistic and independent media in Southern Africa as a pillar of the democratic process. MISA was formed against the backdrop of media violations and harassment of journalists by governments in the region.
MISA as a membership based NGO.
- MISA operates as a regional programme with national chapters forming its membership in 11 (eleven) southern African countries;
- MISA has a participatory corporate governance structure that involves all its member chapters from national to regional level;
- MISA has a decentralised corporate management structure with the Regional Secretariat at the top supported by national chapter management structures;
- The MISA members are National Chapters;
- Each Chapter is registered as an autonomous NGO or Trust in accordance with the laws of the country where the chapter is registered and
- Chapter rules and regulations are in place to define the corporate identity of national chapters as members of MISA.
MISA as a social movement with national chapters
MISA is also an organised group of activists advocating for the specific social agenda of media freedom and freedom of expression. In this regard, MISA is a social movement with the following characteristics:
- The MISA national chapters are membership based NGOs or Trusts;
- At the chapter level, MISA is made up of individual and institutional members promoting the right to freedom of expression and access to information and
- The representatives of these members are elected to form national and regional governance structures in accordance with the provisions of the MISA rules and regulations for chapters as well as the deed of Trust, as amended from time to time.
We focus on achieving sustainable, lasting change to make southern Africa a safer place for media workers. We envision a world where everyone, including netizens, citizen journalists, activists, scholars and artists can practice their fundamental right of free expression.
MISA chapters participate in regional, continental and international forums, projects and actions to advance media freedom and freedom of expression across the continent and online, including:
- Monitoring and drawing attention to violations of free speech and media freedom such as restrictions on access to information, killings, assaults, criminal charges and other unjustified attacks on media workers;
- Advocating for law reforms to improve access to information and free speech; and
- Supporting greater professionalism in the media industry by building capacity through training, workshops, seminars, research and information resources and other educational platforms.
MISA’s mission is to achieve media freedom and free expression for all as an essential part of strengthening democracy in southern Africa.
We aim to create a media environment that is:
- Led by a vibrant, professional and participatory media sector;
- Characterised by independence, pluralism and a diversity of views and opinions, media sustainability, competency and professionalism;
- Where all members of society can exercise their right to access information, making citizens more informed and strengthening democracy; and
- Where all members of society can exercise their basic human right to freely express themselves through any media they choose.
MISA’s vision is of a southern Africa where everyone enjoys freedom of expression and pluralism of views and opinions.
Our vision is of a region where:
- All members of society, individually or collectively, are free to express themselves without hindrance through any media;
- All sectors of society are empowered to access media and information without hindrance;
- Media is free, independent, diverse and pluralistic;
- Media workers are competent, critical, accountable, sensitive to gender issues and the rights of children and aware of their responsibility to society; and
- Laws, regulations and policy environments support media independence, diversity and pluralism.
MISA has 11 national membership-based Chapters within the Southern African Development Community (SADC): Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Our Chapters are made up of staff and members – media workers, human rights and free expression activists, scholars, artists, netizens and citizen journalists – who share our vision for a southern Africa where media workers are free and safe to do their jobs and where all citizens can practice their rights to express themselves and access information.[/vc_column_text]
MISA’s work to defend and promote free expression across southern Africa and more broadly across the continent is coordinated by the Regional Secretariat, based in Windhoek, Namibia and made possible by the extensive network of Chapter offices, members and partners across the region.
This participatory corporate governance structure is provided for in our constitution and consists of the Trust Funds Board (TFB), the Annual General Meeting, the Regional Governing Council, the National Governing Councils, the Regional Secretariat, the Chapter Secretariats and our membership base across southern Africa.
We are a membership-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) with 11 National Chapters within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The MISA National Chapters are registered as either NGOs or Trusts according to the laws of their country and are made up of individual and institutional members promoting the right to freedom of expression and access to information. The representatives of these members are elected to form national and regional governance structures in accordance with MISA’s rules and regulations for Chapters and the deed of Trust.
Trust Funds Board
The Trust Funds Board is the custodian of MISA’s strategic direction and funds, making it responsible for our overall performance and compliance and providing the organisation with effective governance and leadership. The MISA Education and Production Trust Fund Board (TFB) was established on 24 June 1994 by MISA’s founding trustees, retired judge John Manyarara, Dr Gilbert Mudenda and Dr Bojosi Otlhogile. The TFB is independent of MISA’s Regional Governing Council and has the power to dissolve any MISA structure, take disciplinary action against any unit of MISA and make the final decision in any matters of conflict within the organisation. The trustees, who are nominated by MISA members and appointed by sitting trustees, are prominent southern Africans known for their commitment to media freedom. As well as media workers, our trustees include lawyers, business consultants and human rights and freedom of expression activists. This provides a diversity of skills and experience to the organisation’s leadership.
Regional Governing Council
The Regional Governing Council (RGC) is an advisory body to the Trust Funds Board (TFB) responsible for overseeing the MISA National Chapters as they fight to defend and promote media freedom and free expression in their countries. RGC members are elected by the National Chapters and on behalf of the TFB. The RGC consists of 12 governors: the Regional Chairperson and one governor representing each of the 11 member countries. The National Governing Council (NGC) members elect a chairperson from among themselves and this person must then step down as chairperson of the National Chapter they represent.