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Media Policy in a Changing Southern Africa Critical reflections on media reforms in the global age

Media Policy in a Changing Southern Africa
Critical reflections on media reforms in the global age

Edited by Dumisani Moyo and Wallace Chuma
ISBN 978186888-569-5

January 2010

SA price: R95(VAT incl), US$22.00, GB£13, €17 (airmail incl)

About the book

Short description

The book focuses on policy-making in various media sectors, including broadcasting, print and the new information and communications technologies (ICTs). A range of debates and issues around media policy-making in Southern Africa over the past few decades, are covered by a set of international scholars. Ideal for media policy enthusiasts, students and the general public, it covers media reform in Southern Africa and the rest of the world. A great deal of continuity and change have characterised media and communication policy-making in Southern Africa over the past two decades. Rapid political and economic developments spawned the adoption of ‘second generation’ reforms aimed at opening up the media to diverse and pluralistic interests in the context of ongoing democratisation projects. Moving from regional case studies that examine the political economy of media reform, the collection also looks into the future, while taking stock of what has been ‘hit and missed’ and how the current uncertain phase can be transcended. The aim is to take the debate on media reforms to a new level, following on policy ‘maturation’.

Long description

This book is a melting pot of a range of debates and ideas around media policy-making in Southern Africa over the past few decades, with a collection of scholars from various research traditions and diverse corners of the globe. Ideal for the media policy enthusiast as well as for students and the public in general, the book combines a diverse body of research into a single volume, covering media reform in Southern Africa and the rest of the world.

A great deal of continuity and change have characterised media and communication policy-making in Southern Africa over the past two decades. Rapid political and economic developments spawned the adoption of ‘second generation’ reforms aimed at opening up the media to diverse and pluralistic interests in the context of ongoing democratisation projects.

Moving from regional case studies that examine the political economy of media reform over a period covering roughly two decades, the collection concludes with a look into the future, taking stock of what has been ‘hit and missed’ and at the possibilities for transcending the current uncertain phase. The aim is to expand the mediated public sphere, and to take the debate on media reforms to a new level following a certain degree of policy ‘maturation’.

A major strength of this book is that it focuses on policy-making in various media sectors, including broadcasting, print and the new information and communications technologies (ICTs).

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More about the book

This collection of essays succeeds in renewing the debate around media policy reform.

Although the chapters focus on specific country cases, readers will be able to discern different aspects of interest but also connections between these, as informing the wider media policy debate in the various regions. As such, the book aptly illustrates remarkable convergences and divergences in the patterns and experiences of media-policy reform across the region.

One fundamental question emerging is a persistent culture of state dominance in the media and communications policy-making process, despite years of struggle for recognition and participation by non-state actors. Several chapters address this; Windrich’s chapter on broadcasting reform in Zimbabwe, Phiri’s chapter on Zambia, and Dumisani Moyo’s comparative chapter on Zambia and Zimbabwe. Clearly, contrary to arguments about the ‘retreating state’ or the ‘weak or failed state’ that is giving in to global and even local forces, the state in Southern Africa remains at the centre of policy-making and only expediently accommodates input from non-state actors.

The question of why efforts to transform state broadcasters into public-service broadcasters in the entire region seems to have reached a dead end is a central one in contemporary media and communications policy debate. It is a question that is also inextricably linked to the failure of the democratisation project in the region, as evidenced by reversals in countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi and even South Africa. This book argues that the superficial nature of democracy in most countries in the region has meant that media policy reforms – supposedly meant to strengthen the democratic process – have been equally superficial.

South Africa, which for some time served as a model of how to transform a state broadcaster into a genuine public-service broadcaster, appears to have developed a situation characterised by two distinct centres of power. A combination of state interference and over-commercialisation is tending to remove the broadcaster from its role of serving the public interest as expected of a typical public-service broadcaster. Duncan and Glenn’s chapter looks at critical turning points in South African television policy-making since the 1990s.

Duncan and Glenn argue that, contrary to perceptions among media scholars and activists that South Africa provides a model for the region in terms of having put in place a three-tier system with public service broadcasting at the core, South Africa rather is a typical example of ‘how not to establish three tiers of broadcasting. On the other hand, Wallace Chuma contends that, its imperfections notwithstanding, the three-tier system still offers a model for the region. He argues that while television has arguably become ‘captive’ to commercial imperative,  radio still remains an important entry point into the mediated public sphere for the majority of South Africans because of access in all three tiers.

 

The refusal by the Zambian government to appoint the boards for the Independent Broadcasting Authority and the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation as required by new laws passed in 2002, is clear testimony to the reluctance of ruling elites to create an environment conducive to the emergence of vibrant public-service broadcasting institutions. Apart from informing, educating and entertaining, such institutions have the capacity to play a watchdog role, and this scares many governments whose human rights records are questionable.

These fears in part explain the policy paralysis that seems to characterise the kingdom of Swaziland. Richard Rooney argues that the failure to come up with democratic media policies in Swaziland is largely to do with the peculiarity of Swaziland as the only surviving monarchy in the region. The chapter illustrates that despite the international pressures for liberalisation and deregulation, the response from Southern African countries has been uneven, and has certainly been shaped by domestic political dynamics.

Zimbabwe’s seemingly endless crisis has also raised media policy-related questions that have begged thorough analytical engagement.  Moyo departs from the common approach of saying that government media is bad and privately owned media is good, and illustrates that both sides report from certain ideological positions that lead to these polarised perceptions.  Similarly, Wallace Chuma’s chapter looks at the tensions in media policy-making in contemporary Zimbabwe and argues that the unfolding Zimbabwean crisis calls for new thinking on how the media should be structured in that country to create a sound basis for democratisation.

Various chapters in this book address the role of civil society in media and communications policy debates. Clearly, civil society has gained considerable space in which to leverage policy reforms. However, this space and the degree of accommodation from the state vary from country to country, and everywhere the state retains the power to have the final say. Phiri, Jere and Dumisani Moyo recount from different angles the role of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zambia) in influencing policy direction by drafting its own media bills, the core features of which reappeared in the government bills.

James Zaffiro focuses on the role of the media, civil society and the state in the realisation of media and communication objectives of Botswana’s Vision 2016 programme, whose tenets include greater democratisation, transparent governance, enhanced access to ICTs, and a robust media system.

Why has the universal access goal in the provision of ICTs in the region remained a mirage? In their chapter, Sethunya Mosime and Sarah Chiumbu explore the evolution of ICT policy in Botswana, paying particular attention to the tensions between liberalisation and universal access. Case studies in other parts of the world, including South Africa and the United States, illustrate the tensions between universal access and market liberalisation of media. In the same vein, Robert B Horwitz and Willie Currie argue that the privatisation – rather than the liberalisation – of South Africa’s telecommunications sector was done in haste and at the expense of service delivery, and at a huge cost to the poor.

To what extent has neo-liberal global communications policy influenced policy directions and outcomes in the region? In a comparative study, Dumisani Moyo analyses the trajectory of the broadcasting policy reform processes in Zambia and Zimbabwe. He argues that, despite regional and global pressures in both countries, the policy-making processes remained nationally determined, with the state playing a key role.

Finally, whither media policy-making in Southern Africa? One of the major contributions of this book is that suggestions and solutions are provided regarding the policy paralysis experienced in particular countries. Universal concerns about the future direction and opportunities for policy reform in the region are addressed. Chuma’s chapter on Zimbabwe painstakingly develops what could be a blueprint for a long-awaited ‘new Zimbabwe,’ carefully borrowing from a mix of Western models and South African experience. Through their critique of the South African experience, Duncan and Glenn’s chapter also provides warnings and suggestions for future policy directions.

Contents

  1. Policying the media in Southern Africa in the global era: An introduction
    WALLACE CHUMA and DUMISANI MOYO
  2. Politics, privatisation and perversity in South Africa’s telecommunications reform programme
    ROBERT B HORWITZ and WILLIE CURRIE

  3. Turning points in South African television policy and practice since 1990
    JANE DUNCAN and IAN GLENN

  4. Broadcasting in Zimbabwe: An historical perspective
    ELAINE WINDRICH

  5. Reforming the media in Zimbabwe: Critical reflections
    WALLACE CHUMA

  6. The dearth of public debate: Policy, polarities and positioned reporting in Zimbabwe’s news media
    LAST MOYO

  7. Zambia: Policies of a media-phobic state
    ISAAC PHIRI

  8. Towards a changing media policy and regulatory framework in Zambia
    CAESAR JERE

  9. Musical chairs and reluctant liberalisation: Broadcasting policy reform trends in Zimbabwe and Zambia
    DUMISANI MOYO

  10. Realising or dreaming? Vision 2016, media reform and democracy in Botswana
    JAMES ZAFFIRO

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About the contributors

Dr Wallace Chuma is Lecturer in the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Dr James J. Zaffiro is Professor of Political Science at Central College, Pella, Iowa, USA.

Dr Dumisani Moyo is Lecturer in the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Prof. Robert Horwitz is Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego, USA.

Willie Currie is Communications and Information Policy Programme Manager at the Association for Progressive Communications.

Prof. Jane Duncan is Highway Africa Chair of Media and Information Society, Rhodes University, South Africa.

Prof. Ian Glenn is Director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Elaine Windrich is Research Scholar in the African Studies Centre at Stanford University, USA.

Dr Last Moyo lectures in the dual graduate programme between the United Nations-mandated University for Peace, Costa Rica, and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), South Korea. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media, Conflict and Peace at HUFS.

Dr Isaac Phiri is Lecturer and Coordinator of Graduate Studies in the Department of Mass Communication at the University of Zambia.

Caesar Jere is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media Studies at Evelyn Hone College, Lusaka, Zambia.

Dr James J Zaffiro is Professor of Political Science at Central College, Pella, Iowa, USA.

Dr Sethunya T Mosime is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Botswana.

Dr Sarah Chiumbu is Lecturer in the Department of Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Dr William Heuva is Lecturer in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Botswana.

Prof. Richard Rooney is former Head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Swaziland.

Prof. Fackson Banda is SAB LTD−UNESCO Chair of Media and Democracy at Rhodes University, South Africa.

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EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK: CHAPTER ONE

1      Policying the media in Southern Africa in the global era: An introduction

Wallace Chuma and Dumisani Moyo

A great deal of continuity and change have characterised media and communication policy-making in Southern Africa over the past two decades. Across the sub-region, rapid political and economic developments of the 1990s spawned the adoption of ‘second generation’ reforms aimed at opening up the media to diverse and pluralistic interests in the context of ongoing democratisation projects. In many cases these reforms assumed a ‘public’ outlook and character, in the sense that both state and non-state actors participated in their formulation. They were also different from the first cycle of ‘reforms’ that accompanied the attainment of independence from colonial rule, which, by and large, were characterised by the retention of colonial media policy with cosmetic modification.

It is important to note that non-state actors have been among the key players in both the conception and delivery of the most successful media and communications policies in the region. From the Windhoek Declaration, through the robust media reform advocacy of national chapters of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, to the militant lobbying of South Africa’s media activists during the Conference for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) talks, it is clear that the character of the current policies in most of Southern Africa owes much to the input of civil society. The inclusion of explicit provisions for media freedom in constitutions, the passing of freedom of information legislation and the creation and legislation of independent media regulators, among other policy initiatives, were processes in which civil society – more than it ever had or could before – played the role of midwife.

It also needs to be noted that the reforms of the 1990s were in a major way influenced by the end of the Cold War, which created a unipolar world in which the United States and its Western allies shifted their African policies to focus on democratisation, liberalisation and good governance. With the new foci being presented as prerequisites for donor funding and other forms of support, most African governments embraced liberalisation of sorts across the spectrum of politics and economics, to varying degrees. Media reforms in Africa during this period and thereafter should be viewed against this backdrop, and should also be positioned against the backdrop of the globalisation of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). American- and European-based donors, with the backing of their governments, supported civil society advocacy for media reform in areas such as the liberalisation of the airwaves, the independence of regulators and the legislation of freedom of information.

Naturally, and as this volume illustrates, different countries in Southern Africa responded in ways both different and similar to internal and external pressures for media reform. As Chakravartty and Sarikakis (2006) remind us, recent changes in the communication and media landscapes, as well as policy responses to these changes, have not been experienced as homogeneous processes across the globe, but have been influenced by cultural, social and political contexts. It is therefore important, in communication and media policy analysis, to ‘develop tools for making macro-level observations of patterns without losing sight of the micro-levels of realities of experience’ (Chakravartty & Sakikakis 2006: 3).  

It is clear from this collection of essays that the promise of a far-reaching and profound ‘opening up’ of media to all – a promise made in most media/communication policy documents across the region – is not about to be realised. In fact, it is as if the momentum for further policy reform had been lost, at a time when corporate hierarchies and the state appear set on reversing some of the gains of the earlier decade. From the Zimbabwean government’s ‘musical chairs’ approach to media reforms during the mid-1990s and its subsequent, concerted efforts to ‘capture’ the mediated public sphere, through the corporate domination of South Africa’s ostensibly public-service media, to Zambia’s ‘stop-go’ approach to broadcasting regulation, the case studies in this collection point not only to the gains made by non-state actors, but also to new threats to media freedom and diversity in Southern Africa.

In the era of the global dominance of neo-liberal orthodoxy, it is interesting that states in Southern Africa have remained key actors in the policy process within their territorial borders. While not immune to the influences of regional and global pressures or to local clamours for enhanced media freedom and access, states in Southern Africa, with a few exceptions, continue to drive – at their own pace – the process of communication reform (Kupe 2007). Largely as a result of this, the fate of the public service broadcaster in various countries remains inextricably bound to the whims of the state. There is a sense of convergence in the ways in which both democratic and non-democratic regimes in the region reluctantly approach issues around the independence and autonomy of public broadcasters and broadcasting regulators. Notably, public broadcasters have remained in the clutches of state control, and broadcasting regulators are generally staffed with loyal appointees who are at the beck and call of the ruling elites. The perceived role of broadcasting institutions as engines of nation-building and identity formation in a post-colonial dispensation has created justification for this continued state control – a justification that is often spuriously masked in the discourses of ‘public interest’ and ‘national interest’. 

The aim of this book

This collection of essays is an effort to bring debate on media policy reform back to the centre, to initiate a stocktaking exercise as it were; in Chinua Achebe’s terms, to try and find out ‘where the rain began to beat on us’. It offers regional case studies that examine the political economy of media reform over a period covering roughly two decades. And it goes further than this. The chapters in this collection look to the future, taking stock of what has been ‘hit and missed’ and looking at the possibilities for transcending the current uncertain phase (where, depending on how one looks at it, the glass is either half full or half empty). They do this in the interest of expanding the mediated public sphere to include everyone, in a context where the reigning orthodoxy emphasises exclusion.

This volume takes the debate on media reforms to a new level as we believe that, following a certain degree of policy ‘maturation’, it is important to reflect on new possibilities. The book builds on a great deal of other research and many other published works on media reform in Southern Africa and globally. Much of this previous work is very useful. Tawana Kupe’s Broadcasting Policy and Practice in Africa (2003) is a case in point, focusing as it does on the constraints and opportunities in broadcasting policy-making in Africa, mostly during the 1990s era of deregulation, privatisation and convergence. Elizabeth Barratt and Guy Berger’s (2007) edited volume, 50 years of Journalism: African media since Ghana’s Independence, looks back and reflects on the gains that media in Africa have made as institutions of the public sphere since 1957. Francis Nyamnjoh’s (2005) Africa’s Media: Democracy and the Politics of Belonging pays particular attention to Cameroon’s media practice and policy, while drawing generalisations and comparative notes for the continent. These, and other earlier works not mentioned here, to some extent inform some of the debates raised in this book.

A major strength of this book is that it looks at policy-making in various media sectors, including broadcasting, print and the new information and communications technologies (ICTs).

Many cases, one debate: a comparative perspective

This book is a melting pot of a range of debates and ideas around media policy-making in Southern Africa over the past few decades, and brings together scholars from different research traditions and different parts of the world. The point, though, is not to melt everything into a single homogenous product, but to bring diverse – though in many ways connected – perspectives between its covers. Although the chapters focus on specific country cases, we have decided to organise them in a way that allows the reader not only to pick and choose different aspects of interest but also to draw connections between them. These connections draw from the various themes emerging from the chapters, which inform the wider media policy debate in the region. It is more helpful to conceptualise these themes as some form of research questions that have guided the various authors in the writing process. The book illustrates remarkable convergences and divergences in the patterns and experiences of media-policy reform across the region.

One fundamental question that has preoccupied most of the chapters in this book is why there has been a persistent culture of state dominance in the media and communications policy-making process, despite years of struggle for recognition and participation by non-state actors. Several chapters address this question at various lengths and depths: Windrich’s chapter on broadcasting reform in Zimbabwe, Phiri’s chapter on Zambia, and Dumisani Moyo’s comparative chapter on Zambia and Zimbabwe confirm the thesis that policies are path-dependent: once they are set on a particular course, something of substantial strength will be needed to deflect them from that course (Peters 1999). Windrich, for instance, closely traces the historical changes and continuities in Zimbabwe, and illustrates that monopoly ownership and control of broadcasting has been a regime obsession from Ian Smith to Robert Mugabe, who both made it a site of contest in the battle for the control of the hearts and minds of their subjects. Similarly, Phiri argues that an obsession with power and control has been the constant factor in determining Zambian policy-making from Kaunda, through Chiluba, and up to the current Mwanawasa regime. He concludes his chapter by arguing that a form of ‘media-phobia’ – born from an understanding of the power of the media – has tended to drive successive Zambian administrations away from genuinely transforming the media in fulfilment of their founding promises.

What comes out clearly in most of the chapters in this book is that, contrary to arguments about the ‘retreating state’ or the ‘weak or failed state’ that is giving in to global and even local forces, the state in Southern Africa remains at the centre of policy-making and only expediently accommodates input from non-state actors. Chakravartty and Sarikakis (2006), in their discussion of globalisation and media policy, argue that the role of the state ‘has been transformed [but] ... is not necessarily diminished in the face of globalisation’ (ibid: 10). As we pointed out earlier, the flurry of policy debates and reforms in the region since the 1990s was initiated by these non-state actors, only to be usurped by the state subsequently.

The question of why efforts to transform state broadcasters into public-service broadcasters in the entire region seems to have reached a dead end is a central one in contemporary media and communications policy debate. It is a question that is also inextricably linked to the failure of the democratisation project in the region, as evidenced by reversals in countries such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi and even South Africa. What Larry Diamond (2008) has described as an era of ‘democratic recession’ appears to be evident in the region, where governments appear keener on the form rather than the substance of democracy. Several scholars have written on how the wave of democratisation in most developing countries has given way to superficial forms of democracy: Joseph (1999, 2003), Diamond (1999), and Bratton and Van de Walle (1997), among others, have used terms such as ‘pseudo democracy,’ ‘virtual democracy,’ and ‘electoral democracy’ in an attempt to capture the hollowness of the emerging forms of imitative democracy. Few of these scholars, however, have attempted to make connections between this superficial democracy and its implications for public policy, particularly in the media sector. We argue that the superficial nature of democracy in most countries in the region has meant that media policy reforms – supposedly meant to strengthen the democratic process – have been equally superficial. Just as most of the countries have embraced electoral democracy as some form of window dressing to hide dictatorial tendencies, so too has a tendency developed of imitating media policies and regulations that are perceived as acceptable to Western donor countries. Thus, while freedom-of-information or access-to-information laws, and laws purportedly establishing public-service broadcasters and even independent regulatory authorities have been introduced, little has been done to implement them. Dumisani Moyo argues that some of these reforms were introduced to placate vocal critics and donors, and not for the expansion of the public sphere as such. He also shows, however, that the superficiality of the reforms notwithstanding, some of them have had far-reaching – albeit unintended – consequences in terms of opening up hitherto closed communicative spaces.

South Africa, which for some time served as a model of how to transform a state broadcaster into a genuine public-service broadcaster, appears to have developed a situation characterised by two distinct centres of power. A combination of state interference and over-commercialisation is tending to remove the broadcaster from its role of serving the public interest as expected of a typical public-service broadcaster. Duncan and Glenn’s chapter looks at critical turning points in South African television policy-making since the 1990s, and argues that these historic moments represented missed opportunities for coming up with policies that could have ushered in a more democratic and robust television system for the country. All these opportunities, including the multiparty negotiations in the run-up to the first democratic elections, the Triple Inquiry of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) into the nature of public broadcasting, the establishment of the second free-to-air channel, e.tv, to name a few, were squandered in the ‘rush for commercialism’ and marketisation.

Duncan and Glenn argue that, contrary to perceptions among media scholars and activists that South Africa provides a model for the region in terms of having put in place a three-tier system with public service broadcasting at the core – based on models advanced by John Keane (1991) and James Curran (1991) – South Africa rather is a typical example of ‘how not to establish three tiers of broadcasting.’ They argue that the fact that all the tiers have been permeated by commercialisation implies that South Africa has ended up with a single tier of broadcasting, one that is commercial through and through. Theirs is not a universally accepted position, however. Wallace Chuma, for example, contends that, its imperfections notwithstanding, the three-tier system still offers a model for the region. His chapter argues that while television has arguably become ‘captive’ to commercial imperative – the extent to which values of public service have been abandoned in the process remains debatable – radio still remains an important entry point into the mediated public sphere for the majority of South Africans because of access in all three tiers.

The refusal by the Zambian government to appoint the boards for the Independent Broadcasting Authority and the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation as required by new laws passed in 2002, is clear testimony to the reluctance of ruling elites to create an environment conducive to the emergence of vibrant public-service broadcasting institutions. Apart from informing, educating and entertaining, such institutions have the capacity to play a watchdog role, and this scares many governments whose human rights records are questionable. As Phiri eloquently puts it, ‘A free media is inquisitive; it investigates and poses questions. A free media also prints and broadcasts dissenting voices. All this makes Zambian governments jittery because they would no longer be in control of what will be said or revealed. They find it hard to go to bed peacefully not knowing what tomorrow’s headlines will announce.’

These fears in part explain the policy paralysis that seems to characterise the kingdom of Swaziland. Richard Rooney argues that the failure to come up with democratic media policies in Swaziland is largely to do with the peculiarity of Swaziland as the only surviving monarchy in the region. The chapter argues that the conservatism of the Swazi monarchy, and its general distrust of the media, are the key explanatory factors for the piecemeal media reform that has taken place in that country over the past two decades. The chapter illustrates that despite the international pressures for liberalisation and deregulation, the response from Southern African countries has been uneven, and has certainly been shaped by domestic political dynamics.

Zimbabwe’s seemingly endless crisis has also raised media policy-related questions that have begged thorough analytical engagement. To what extent, for instance, have media policies in that country been a factor in the multifaceted crisis gripping the country since the turn of the century? What suitable policy directions can be proffered for a post-crisis Zimbabwe? Last Moyo’s chapter addresses the former question by looking at the link between structure and content in the Zimbabwean media landscape and illustrating how a weakly conceived media structure can lead to an impoverished public sphere. It illustrates how a state-dominated media landscape can be manipulated for propagandistic ends on the one hand; and on the other hand how privately owned media operating under a restrictive environment can be manipulated by corporate and oppositional interests to pursue a narrow discourse.

Last Moyo departs from the common approach of saying that government media is bad and privately owned media is good, and illustrates that both sides report from certain ideological positions that lead to these polarised perceptions. The public (or rather, government-controlled) media frame their reporting within a ‘nationalist,’ and ‘patriotic’ perspective, while the privately owned media emphasise the discourses of human rights and property rights. The result is a rise of two irreconcilable forms of journalism, which the author calls ‘patriotic journalism’ and ‘anti-establishment journalism.’ Both have their problems.

Similarly, Wallace Chuma’s chapter looks at the tensions in media policy-making in contemporary Zimbabwe and argues that the unfolding Zimbabwean crisis calls for new thinking on how the media should be structured in that country to create a sound basis for democratisation. Chuma notes that post-2000 media and communication policies in Zimbabwe have led to an erosion of the nominal agency powers of journalistic practice, leaving the profession at the mercy of political and socio-economic power hierarchies. Echoing Last Moyo in this volume, Chuma argues that in the obtaining, polarised climate, the media have become ‘tribunes for competing elites in capital, civil society and the state.’ Like Windrich, and Dumisani Moyo in this volume, Chuma emphasises the point that the continuities in media policy from colonial to post-colonial have entrenched the state as the dominant actor in shaping both media systems and journalistic practice. The chapter ends by making invaluable policy suggestions for a post-crisis Zimbabwe, drawing from and adapting the model advanced by James Curran (2002) and the South African post-apartheid reform process.

Another pertinent question relates to the role of non-state actors already alluded to earlier. What gains, for example, have non-state actors made in policy-making in the region? Various chapters in this book address the role of civil society in media and communications policy debate in the region, and there is consensus that civil society has gained considerable space in which to leverage policy reforms. However, this space and the degree of accommodation from the state vary from country to country, and everywhere the state retains the power to have the final say-so. Phiri, Jere and Dumisani Moyo, for example, recount from different angles the role of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zambia) in influencing policy direction by drafting its own media bills, the core features of which reappeared in the government bills. The refusal by the Zambian government to accept these bills and to implement the new laws, however, points to the fact that the success of civil society interventions depends largely on the willingness of the executive to grant such a space.

James Zaffiro focuses on the role of the media, civil society and the state in the realisation of media and communication objectives of Botswana’s Vision 2016 programme, whose tenets include greater democratisation, transparent governance, enhanced access to ICTs, and a robust media system. Zaffiro explores the development of media policy in Botswana, identifying constraints and opportunities for both state and civil society actors in the policy process. His key argument is that the state in Botswana needs to open up policy discussions and decisions to a range of civil society actors, and should free the public-service media from state control. To realise the goals of Vision 2016, Zaffiro argues, there is the need for journalistic professionalism and journalism training in Botswana, and increased civil society support for media-reform initiatives.

Why has the universal access goal in the provision of ICTs in the region remained a mirage? In their chapter, Sethunya Mosime and Sarah Chiumbu explore the evolution of ICT policy in Botswana, paying particular attention to the tensions between liberalisation and universal access. They contend that while the ICT policies represent a symbolic expression of noble intentions on the part of the state, the realities of fiscal limitations and a small, inward-looking private telecommunications sector militate against the realisation of universal access to ICTs by the majority of Botswana’s population. Mosime and Chiumbu also cite case studies in other parts of the world, including South Africa and the United States, to illustrate the tensions between universal access and market liberalisation of media. In the same vein, Robert B Horwitz and Willie Currie argue that the privatisation – rather than the liberalisation – of South Africa’s telecommunications sector was done in haste and at the expense of service delivery, and at a huge cost to the poor. They trace the development of the post-apartheid telecommunication policy from White Paper through to legislation, and identify the process as highly flawed. Among other things, it retained the monopoly of Telkom, worsened telecommunication service delivery and opened up opportunities for rent-seeking under the ideological aegis of black economic empowerment (BEE).

To what extent has neo-liberal global communications policy influenced policy directions and outcomes in the region? In a comparative study, Dumisani Moyo analyses the trajectory of the broadcasting policy reform processes in Zambia and Zimbabwe. He argues that, despite regional and global pressures in both countries, the policy-making processes remained nationally determined, with the state playing a key role.

There is no consensus in the book, however, as to the nature and extent of external influences. For example, while the globalisation of market liberal policies is often blamed for the commercial models that have emerged in countries such as South Africa, Duncan and Glenn make the compelling argument that ‘the marketisation of television (in South Africa) is a chosen strategy, rather than policy trajectory imposed in response to external, objective constraints …’ Far from affirming the thesis that a liberalised media environment would lead to foreign domination in developing nations (Paterson 1994) – a fear that seems to have influenced the strict ownership regulations developed in Zimbabwe – Duncan and Glenn’s chapter illustrates that South Africa did not become a haven for foreign multinationals after liberalisation, as the country turned out to be less attractive to foreign investors than had been anticipated. Instead, it is South African corporations that have been going global.

Finally, whither media policy-making in Southern Africa? One of the major contributions of this book is that some of the authors have taken the trouble to proffer suggestions and solutions regarding the policy paralysis experienced in particular countries. Policymakers and civil society actors alike will find it interesting to engage with these contributions. While the suggestions are country-specific, they address what appear to be universal concerns about the future direction and opportunities for policy reform in the region. Chuma’s chapter on Zimbabwe, for instance, painstakingly develops what could be a blueprint for a long-awaited ‘new Zimbabwe,’ carefully borrowing from a mix of Western models and South African experience. Through their critique of the South African experience, Duncan and Glenn’s chapter also provides warnings and suggestions for future policy directions.

The editors are especially grateful to Prof Tawana Kupe, the Dean of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand for providing financial assistance through his Dean’s discretionary fund towards the copy editing of this volume, and to Isabelle Delvare who worked tirelessly to make this book more readable. Most especially, we wish to thank all the contributors to this collection for their cooperation and persistent commitment to making this project successful, and hope that you, the reader, will find it insightful and enjoyable.

References

Barratt, E. and G. Berger, eds. 2007. 50 Years of Journalism: African Media Since Ghana’s Independence. Johannesburg: African Editors’ Forum.

Bratton, M. and N. van de Walle. 1997. Democratic Experiments in Africa: Regime Transitions in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Chakravartty, P. and K.Sarikakis. 2006. Media Policy and Globalization. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Curran, J. 2002. Media and Power. London and New York: Routledge.

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Notes for marketing

Key Words

Chapter 14

Regulated pluralism

Critical political economy

Media policy reform

Afrocentrism

Economic determinism

Critical pluralism

Afro-statist

Grand narratives

Multi-theoretical

Chapter 13

Freedom of expression

Public service broadcasting

King Mswati III

Times of Swaziland

Swaziland Broadcasting and Information Services

Chapter 12

Democratic transition

Globalisation

Colonial broadcasting policy

Swapo

SWABC

Information Policy

Transitional National Development Plan

Nation-building

Liberalisation

Media diversity

‘Managed liberalisation’

National broadcaster

SADC Protocol on Culture, Communication and Sport

SADC Protocol on ICT

African Commission’s Declaration of Principles on Free Expression in Africa

Namibian Communications Commission

Chapter 11

Neoliberal orthodoxy

Independent regulatory authority

Crisis of universalism

Information revolution

Telecommunication reforms

Deregulation

Privatisation

International Telecommunication Union

Telecommunications Policy Framework for Botswana

Maitlamo

Orange Botswana

Mascom Wireless

Open access

Monopoly

Chapter 10

Political participation

Accountability

Vision 2016

State control

Media government relations

Editorial independence

Press Council of Botswana

Fourth estate

Media pluralism and diversity

Chapter 9

Institutional approaches

Reluctant liberalisation

Partial reform

Pressure for reform

Monopoly

Democracy

Land reform

National sovereignty

Chapter 8

Corporate capitalism

Digitalisation

Convergence

Concentration

Competition

Winds of change

Developing nations

Information and communication technology (ICT) policy

Zambia Broadcasting Service

Civil society

Chapter 7

Media phobia

Media policy

United National Independence Party

Movement for Multiparty Democracy

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Chapter 6

Ideology

Positioned reporting

Media behaviour

Agency

Public sphere

Myths of nationhood

Salience

Polarities

Grand narratives

Chapter 5

Political economy

Legitimacy

Regulated pluralism

Differentiated audiences

Hegemony

Zimbabwe Crisis

Journalistic agency

Chapter 3

Commercialising juggernaut

Informed citizenry

Marketisation

Negotiated liberalisation

Triple Inquiry

Funding

Digital migration

Convergence

One-tier of broadcasting

Chapter  2

Globalisation

Subverted liberalisation

Weak regulator

Monopoly

Best practice

Chapter 1

Second generation reforms

Musical chairs

Diversity and Pluralism

Mediated public sphere