The European Commission has assured financing for a long-term DW-AKADEMIE media project in Zimbabwe. The goal is to support independent journalism in this Southern African country.
Patrick Leusch, head of DW-AKADEMIE project development, and Barbara Plinkert, Chargé d'affaires, EC Delegation Harare
The European Commission will support a long-term DW-AKADEMIE project in Zimbabwe with 1.1 million Euros. The project is called “Media in Zimbabwe: The Key Factor in Defending Human Rights and Freedom of Opinion. Reinforcing Media Reform and the Transition to Civil Society”. DW-AKADEMIE aims to support Zimbabwean media over a three-year period in “working on a new, free media system and supporting independent journalism in Zimbabwe,” emphasizes Patrick Leusch, head of DW-AKADEMIE project development. EU assistance makes this possible. “The project is very important to us because it’s the result of close cooperation between Zimbabwean and European partners.”
Particularly benefiting from the support will be existing networks of media companies and media aid agencies in Zimbabwe, with a special focus on members of the “Media Alliance of Zimbabwe” (MAZ). This project concentrates primarily on four areas: media law reform; institutional advanced training; expertise development; and professionalization of the media sector. The project also aims to strengthen the connection between the media and civil society.
Despite the restructuring of the government two years ago, the media situation in this crisis-shaken Southern African country has hardly improved. Independent reporting is still not possible, say media and human rights organizations. And contrary to promises made, no media reforms have been undertaken since the power-sharing agreement between Robert Mugabe’s government and the opposition came into effect. In fact, the opposite is true: journalists still suffer censorship and persecution. According to a report from Human Rights Watch, not one independent radio or television broadcaster received a license last year.
Primarily, DW-AKADEMIE would like to have a coordinating role in the project. Nine partners in total are involved, including the European organization IMS in Denmark, IWPR in London, Press Now in the Netherlands and FOJO in Sweden. Four Zimbabwean media organizations and networks are also involved.
The project is financed by the EU human rights program “Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights” (EIDHR). The European Commission received more than 200 applications for project funding as part of this program. Eleven were chosen, including the DW-AKADEMIE Zimbabwe project. “The fact that we were asked to sign shows the standing DW-AKADEMIE has worldwide,” says Patrick Leusch.