Nam, Zim revise MoU on information sharing
Innocent Gore and Timo Shihepo
WINDHOEK – Namibia and Zimbabwe ministers of information, media, broadcasting and information and communication technology have endorsed new aspects to be included in the recently reviewed 2004 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on information sharing and dissemination.
The two southern African countries signed the memorandum of understanding in 2004 in areas of broadcasting, print, news agencies, film making, and cultural exchange, among others.
Despite many aspects being encompassed in the memorandum, so far The Southern Times newspaper, a joint venture project between New Era Publications Corporation and Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited which formed the paper’s holding company Namzim, is the only project that has come out of the agreement.
Representatives from the Ministries of Information of Namibia and Zimbabwe met in Windhoek for the past three days to review the 2004 MoU with the aim of implementing several aspects and bring it up to date with current developments in information technology such digitalisation.
The two ministers, Tjekero Tweya and Christopher Mushowe from Namibia and Zimbabwe, respectively, then met yesterday for the adoption of the MoU draft and agreed minutes. Today, at a briefing the ministers said they adopted the document although it was not ready for the public as the document was still due for legal review.
A sneak peak of the document shows that the two ministers agreed on launching a SADC tourism magazine, and sharing of mostly cultural and other important information between Namibia Broadcasting Corporation and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
The document makes it very clear that the two nations must embrace technological changes for broadcast and print media. It also says while the two countries have made inroads in print media much still has to be done in broadcasting.
Other aspects includes opening up The Southern Times to other countries in southern Africa so that they are involved in the newspaper, soonest. Part of the draft document also makes provision for the two ministers to meet at least once a year.
This will enable them to keep eye on things and make sure that most of what was agreed upon would be implemented.
Minister Mushowe told The Southern Times that after these meetings people will definitely see new projects.
“The thinking of the 2004 MoU was that it was just a project to do and deal with information. But we must turn NamZim and The Southern Times into a corporate entity, which can venture into anything. Information has no boundary. There is no limitation why the company cannot do this.”
He said he was very happy that the two nations came up with a very amicable agreement that NamZim will remain a brain child and a daughter of Zimbabwe and Namibia but agreed to release the child (The Southern Times) to the SADC region so that it become a SADC voice.
“This will enable it to become a SADC information disseminator. Some countries are already itching to join, these are the mechanisms that we are working on, and these are the modalities we are putting in place. We are very happy that our own teams have been working hard.”
Mushowe said when the ministers met in Lesotho in 2015, South Africa, Zambia and Lesotho showed interest. He hoped that most of the SADC countries would get a cake on it.
“Already The Southern Times is a regional newspaper circulating in their countries. It has made some impacts in their countries. So we have no doubt that there will be countries who would want to be part of this. We want to donate it. We started it, yes, but we want it to be a regional mouth piece,” he said.
This, Mushowe said, would inform Africa and the world at large, the important activities of this region.
“We have a similar corporation in East Africa so why not in southern Africa? We expect these countries to fully jump on board as soon as we finish these reviews (in Namibia). We would have to go and present this thinking to the Council of Ministers of SADC so that it can be adopted formally and as a means to give it to the region. We will present it in the shortest possible of time.”
Minister Tweya hailed the relations between the two countries and the close co-operation in the information and media sectors which saw the birth of NamZim.
Speaking during the briefing, he said the MoU between the two countries demonstrated that information is power and that in its absence, there would be a lot of insecurity and uncertainty.
He hailed the officials from the two countries for working on improving the 2004 MoU and said it demonstrated the close co-operation between the two countries which dates back to the days of the liberation struggle.
“Namzim will remain and Southern Times is a baby that was born out of Namzim. I want us to separate the two. Southern Times, we will then share with the rest of the region. This baby will narrate our story, our culture. It’s a tool that will encourage us to work hard and be more committed to improving the living standards of our people,” he said.
The minister commended officials from the two countries for working hard over the past three days to revive the MoU.
“Over the last three days, you officials from Namibia and Zimbabwe, have rediscovered that very very important relationship between us and you find out that we can make this relationship vibrant again because it had kind of gone on sabbatical leave. Now that sabbatical leave has gone, we need to talk to one another, for as long as we talk to one another, it keeps us together.
“If we don’t, we feel very left out and unsure of ourselves. This week should go down in the history of our nations for having revived that relationship, that coming together, rediscovering and understanding that we are now in a new reality. We do not need telex alone, we do not need to hitch-hike to the Victoria Falls but can stay in touch because of new technology and that we can do as comrades, brothers and sisters,” he said.
Tweya said he looked forward to a new beginning. He said for far too long, African countries had allowed other people to speak on their behalf “as if we do not have mouths” and there was a need for them to tell their own stories through media like The Southern Times.
He said when Zimbabwe was shunned by many, Namibia never turned its back as their relationship was strengthened by blood, having shared the trenches during their liberation struggles when Swapo and Zanu-PF fought side by side against apartheid and colonial exploitation.
He said despite financial challenges affecting the two countries, they would overcome them by marching together.
The Namibian Ministry of Information, Communication Technology permanent secretary Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana said his country was proud to introduce The Southern Times to the “extended” family of SADC so that it would tell the story of Southern Africa as coined by the region’s founding fathers.
Over the past three days, senior officials led by Ua-Ndjarakana, and Zimbabwe’s Information, Media and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary George Charamba, have brainstormed over the MoU with a view to improving it and bringing in line with the latest developments in the information, communication and technology sector.
The Zimbabwean delegation comprised Zimpapers board chairman Delma Lupepe, the company’s chief executive officer Pikirayi Deketete, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation director general Patrick Mavhura, and New Ziana acting CEO Rangarirai Shoko.
The Namibian delegation comprised Namzim board chairperson Franna Kavari, NBC director-general, Stanley Similo, New Era chief executive officer and Namzim board member Dr Audrin Mathe, and Nampa chief executive officer Isack Hamata.
The two ministers visited the Namzim offices in Windhoek West and were taken on a tour of the premises and newsroom by general manager Gwen Snyders and Southern Times editor Innocent Gore.
The delegations left for the coastal town of Walvis Bay later Thursday to tour the satellite station there and visit the Zimbabwe dry port facility.