The Zimbabwean chapter of the Southern African media freedom watchdog Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) made changes to its website aimed at improving its functions with financial assistance from Germany’s economic co-operation ministry and editorial and technical expertise from Deutsche Welle Akademie.
Acting director for MISA-Zimbabwe, Thabani Moyo said the new-look website launched on October 3 makes it easier to keep up with freedom of expression and access to information development in Zimbabwe and the southern African region.
“Free speech and access to information are basic human rights,” Moyo said. “They are also essential to making government and other institutions transparent and accountable.
“That’s why we have spent months re-designing and re-organising our website to make sure those looking for information can find it quickly and easily.”
The Zimbabwe chapter of MISA was founded in 1995 and focuses on promoting and advocating for the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and free, independent and pluralistic media.
Zimbabwe introduced tough media laws in 2003 which the government has used to shut down critical newspapers and arrest journalists.
Long-time ruler Robert Mugabe announced a cabinet on October 9 introducing a new ministry of cybersecurity, threat detection and mitigation as it seeks to crackdown on political activists who have taken to the social media to platforms to express their opposition to Mugabe.
Several journalists have been beaten up by police and ruling party activists and detained in the course of their duties in recent years.
“With our support for the MISA website we aim to help everyone from stakeholders and politicians to journalists and ordinary citizens to know more about their fundamental rights to information and freedom of expression,” said Natascha Schwanke, Head of Deutsche Welle Akademie’s Africa Division.
“And also to help everyone know why it’s so vital to support these rights and find out when they are being eroded and how they can be better upheld.”
The new-look website has a news section featuring articles, analysis, reactions and statements about freedom of expression, access to information and online privacy in Zimbabwe.
To abreast with media freedom development the website will run alerts recording violations and victories, Moyo said.
The news section includes video and infographics to complement text in illustrating and highlighting issues.
The resource centre has a collection of reports, legislation and publications related to freedom of expression and access to information in Zimbabwe and the region under selected subject headings.