The media industry received a huge boost today when they received a donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe. The donation was facilitated by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) and the International Media Support (IMS), with funding support from the European Union Delegations to Zimbabwe.
The equipment is valued at USD29 000 and includes facemasks, sanitizers, overalls, and thermometers. The equipment will be distributed to Journalists under Advertising Media Association (ADMA), community media, online content creators and freelance journalists’ groupings as well as media civil society groups supported by the EU.
The event coincided with the celebrations of the International Day of Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) commemorations that are observed annually on 28th September.
Speaking at the event, the European Union delegation to Zimbabwe, Mr. Timo Olkkonen, commended the steps being taken to increase pluralism and the number of voices in the media sector. He said,” The Corona crisis has shown how pluralism is important. We know that the media landscape is dominated by public owned media, government owned media, so the steps being taken to increase diversity are very important. We are happy with the opening of the media especially the broadcasting media.”
The EU Ambassador also spoke about the role that journalists and media play in promoting democracy by keeping the government accountable.
“For the EU, the role of journalists and media is extremely important. The issue of freedom of expression, freedom to information is one of the pillars of democracy. The media plays a role of keeping the government accountable,” he said.
The Sunday Mail Editor, Mrs. Victoria Ruzvidzo, commended the efforts of the European Union and IMS. “As journalists we meet a lot of people outside and within the newsroom, this means we are exposed to Covid-19. The protective clothes make me very confident that we can go out and do our work,” she said.
“I am a mother of two boys and, sometimes I feel as if I am exposing them to the disease when I go out without enough protective clothes. As such, we are most grateful for this donation.”
Standing in for the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting, Mr. Chrispen Makoni, the Chief Director in the Ministry, spoke of the challenges being faced in the media industry and how the government was making great efforts to work together with the media sector to alleviate the challenges. He said, “In cognizant of the challenges being faced by the media sector, Zimbabwe is uniting forces with the world in fighting an invisible enemy. The disease has claimed the lives of many across the world. For these measures to work there is need for citizens to be informed and that’s the role the media plays.”
The online community was also appreciative of the donation. Speaking on behalf of the Zimbabwe Online Content Creators (ZOCC) community, Mr Toneo Rutsito was effusive in his praise, “We appreciate the good gesture that was extended to us by IMS and the EU, it will go a long way. Most of our journalists are on the ground at the frontline, from the streets. As such there are on the frontline and exposed to most risk. The donation will minimize the risk of contracting the virus.”
Susan Makore, representing ADMA expressed gratitude and had this to say, “Our staff are on the frontline and everything that is happening in Zimbabwe, they have to cover it. We are very grateful for this donation. It’s certainly not an easy time and PPEs are quite pricey, so we are very grateful when we get this kind of support.”
She went on to say, “The donation comes at the right time. We have to ensure that the workers are always protected. We were very happy that the numbers were going down but they have started to pick up again. As such, the donation comes at the right time.”