Who we are
The Media Institute of Southern Africa advocates for media freedom and freedom of expression in southern Africa. MISA programmes have grown and now have a global outreach especially through its 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
- We operate as a regional programme with national chapters forming its membership in 11 southern African countries
- We have a participatory corporate governance structure that involves all its member chapters from national to regional level
- We have a decentralised corporate management structure with the Regional Secretariat at the top supported by national chapter management structures
- The MISA members are the 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
- 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 a membership based organisation advocating for the specific 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
- 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.
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:
- Has a vibrant, professional and participatory media sector
- Sustains independence, pluralism and a diversity of views and opinions, media sustainability, competency and professionalism
- Allows all members of society to exercise their right to access information, making citizens more informed and strengthening democracy
- Allows all members of society to 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.
In December 1989 – against a backdrop of violations against media, harassment of journalists and restrictions on citizens’ rights to free expression by governments in the region – media practitioners gathered in Botswana to discuss “The Right to Inform and be Informed”. During this meeting, they sowed the seeds for what was to become the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). MISA was officially established in September 1992 in the wake of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media in Africa, which declared an “independent, pluralistic and free press” as essential for democracy and economic development. MISA was given the mandate of promoting these provisions across the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Media workers meet in Botswana to discuss “The Right to Inform and Be Informed” and sow the seeds for creating MISA.
Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media in Africa (Windhoek Declaration) is adopted in Windhoek, Namibia.
MISA is officially launched in September with a SADC mandate of promoting the provisions of the Windhoek Declaration of 1991.
MISA Education and Production Trust registered on 12 October in Windhoek, Namibia. MISA joins the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), a network of more than 100 organisations worldwide monitoring, promoting and defending freedom of expression.
MISA and the UNESCO Windhoek Cluster co-host the Windhoek Declaration +10 conference, where the African Charter on Broadcasting is adopted.
African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted.
MISA and the UNESCO Windhoek Cluster co-host the Windhoek Declaration +20 conference. The African Platform on Access to Information Declaration is adopted during the Pan African Conference on Access to Information on 19 September in Cape Town, South Africa.
MISA celebrates 20 years of promoting and defending free expression in southern Africa.
MISA and partners successfully lobby the Pan African Parliament (PAP) to acknowledge the interface between Press Freedom and Development. The PAP subsequently launches its campaign aplty titled ‘Press Freedom for Development and Governance: Need for Reform’, a fulfilment of a PAP Resolution – No PAP/P(3)/RES/08(1).
MISA and partners successfully lobby UNESCO to adopt September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information.
MISA celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting Independent and Pluralistic Media in Africa.