Zimbabwe’s media comprising state-owned, private and community media, campus radio stations and freelance journalists, have committed themselves to the highest ethical standards in the coverage of this year’s elections scheduled for 23 August 2023.
Media advocacy groups and academics also appended their signatures to the Harmonised Elections Media Code of Conduct Pledge 2023 in Bulawayo on the 10th of August 2023.
The media also pledged to uphold the highest professional standards of impartiality, credibility, and integrity in their coverage of the elections.
Media stakeholders endorsed the pledge as one of the most progressive steps that commit the media to self-regulate and keep itself in check on how it is fairing in terms of its own set standards.
The Pledge was endorsed by the Government of Zimbabwe, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana. He signed the pledge on behalf of the Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa.
Harmonised Elections Media Code of Conduct Pledge 2023
The three political parties with a parliamentary presence, namely Zanu PF, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC T) and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), also endorsed the pledge.
The ruling party was represented by its Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs, Honourable Fortune Chasi, while the MDC T and CCC were represented by Deputy President Honourable Paurina Mpariwa, and Deputy Secretary for Elections, Ellen Shiriyedenga, respectively.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)’s endorsement was made by Inspector Abednico Ncube, representing National Police Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi.
Executive Secretary, Godwin Phiri, endorsed the pledge on behalf of the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC).
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Permanent Secretary Mangwana hailed the media for taking such a bold step in covering critical national processes like elections.
“The values captured in this pledge and commitment are very noble. As the government, we endorse and take a cue from the industry as it seeks to adhere to the highest ethical standards and professionalism in such critical national processes.”
ZMC Executive Secretary, Godwin Phiri, took the delegates through the journey, which incrementally led to the signing of the pledge. In his submissions, he noted that:
“One of the key outcomes of that process is that as the media sector, we need to sign a pledge, a pledge where we are committing to remain professional around elections.
“There are ethics that speak to journalism which journalists learn in school, but sometimes because of the nature of events, we need to remind ourselves of those ethics… The pledge that we present is an agreement reached by media stakeholders in Mutare on July 11, 2023.”
MISA Regional Director, Dr Tabani Moyo, took the stakeholders and the journalists through the pledge and highlighted its historic importance.
“Those of you who were in Mutare will remember the first time I presented the text of the pledge and motivated together with colleagues from the ZMC for its adoption. We are happy that we are at this stage of affirming our commitment through appending signatures to the pledge.
“When we first approached the ZMC with the idea of the pledge, we thought it was great given how we saw it playing out in Lesotho during their elections in 2022… today I wish to wholeheartedly congratulate you on this momentous occasion, a historic commitment to self-assess and self-correct,” said Dr Moyo.
MISA Zimbabwe, in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Media Commission and UNESCO Regional Office Southern Africa, engaged the media since the beginning of the year to re-commit to the ideals of professionalism while covering elections.
This was drawn from MISA’s experiences in the Lesotho elections of 2022, where MISA Lesotho took leadership in mobilising the media to commit and recommit to professionalism while covering the election.
The Zimbabwean Media Pledge was signed at the training workshop, which was jointly organised by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and the Zimbabwe Institute.