A five-week long media diversity campaign organised by HIVOS, in partnership with the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Royal Danish Embassy, has shed light on the current media landscape in Zimbabwe and raised some important questions about the sector as the government makes new assurances that it is keen to license more media houses.
Implementing partners for the campaign, held from October to December 2013, included the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Kenge Republic, the Voluntary Media Council (VMCZ), the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), 263 Chat and Savannah Arts.
The campaign, which ran under the theme ‘Broaden Our Horizons’, included a series of events aimed at increasing public awareness of the various media at their disposal, but also at getting the various players in the industry to discuss issues affecting them.
The first event on the calendar was the 2013 edition of the Protest Arts International Festival organised by Savannah Art, with presentations on topics related to freedom of expression and media diversity, musical performances, theatre and spoken word.
On October 29, a launch and networking event for media players, government officials and other invited guests officially kicked off the campaign. The highlight of the launch was a panel discussion featuring Dutch ambassador Gera Sneller which looked at some of the challenges of adding more voices to the media landscape.
The VMCZ facilitated a series of journalism lectures at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and Midlands State University (MSU) during the month of November. On November 16, a media fair was held in central Harare that allowed the public to interact with media players showcasing their work at the fair.
Other events included the award-winning 2012 documentary Forbidden Voices and a conference on online distribution of film and TV. Journalism students were the focal audience of a radio seminar which addressed programming for young people and youth involvement in the media.
For journalists, one of the highlights of the campaign was a competition to write an article on media diversity and win a journalism exchange trip to the Netherlands. The winner was Clemence Manyukwe.
The campaign drew national attention when it hosted a moderated discussion on media diversity on ZiFM Stereo radio that touched on some of the challenges that face independent media in Zimbabwe. To cap it all off, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest daily papers, Newsday, carried an eight-page supplement on December 10, 2013, highlighting some of the main issues brought forward by the campaign.