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  • Communiqué on media conduct during referendum and pending harmonized elections
    Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe
    March 14, 2013

    The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) would like to advise and remind members of the public, civil society organizations, and political party candidates of the importance of freedom of expression, media freedom and access to information during elections and electoral periods. This more importantly during the referendum to be held on Saturday 16 March as well as for the electoral campaigning period that follows almost immediately thereafter.
    In pursuance of our mandate, the VMCZ further wishes to inform members of the public, civil society and aspiring politicians that the media abides by professional standards and ethics as captured in the Media Code of Conduct. For the purposes of the electoral period, the media while guided by the entirety of the Media Code of Conduct will also have its professionalism measured by its adherence to Sections 10 and 11 of the same which are as quoted below.

    The VMCZ Media complaints committee will be on hand to hear and adjudicate complaints in as timely and reasonable a manner as possible in the spirit and with the intention of promoting media professionalism and public accountability during the electoral period without preferring criminal charges or arrests against journalists.

    Section 10 of the Media Code of Conduct

    Hatred or Violence

    a) Media Practitioners and media institutions must not publish material that is intended or is likely to engender hostility or hatred towards persons on the grounds of their race, ethnic origin, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability, religion or political affiliation.
    b) Media Institutions must take utmost care to avoid contributing to the spread of ethnic hatred or political violence.

    Section 11 of the Media Code of Conduct

    Reporting of Elections

    a) Media practitioners and the media institutions must report on elections in a fair and balanced manner.
    b) Before reporting a damaging allegations made against a candidate or a political party, a media practitioner should obtain, wherever possible, a comment from the candidate or party against whom the allegation has been made especially where the allegation has been made by an opposing candidate or an opposing political party.
    c) A media practitioner or media institution must not accept any gift, reward or inducement from a politician or candidate.
    d) As far as possible, a media practitioner or media institution should report the views of candidates and political parties directly and in their own words, rather than as they are described by others.
    e) A journalist must take care in reporting the findings of the opinion polls. Any report should wherever possible include details about the methodology used in conducting the survey and by whom it is conducted.

    Section 11 of the VMCZ code of conduct deals specifically with the election period and has guidelines on how the media should report elections.

    The VMCZ receives, mediates and adjudicates complaints by individuals and organisations against the media.
    The VMCZ Media Complaints Committee will during this period deal timeously with media complaints that arise during that period.

    *VMCZ endeavours to create an environment that promotes a professional and ethical media that promotes professional and ethical media that contributes towards a more democratic and just society.

    Visit the VMCZ fact sheet

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