22nd July 2024

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Zimbabwe Media Commission “concerned” by sexual harassment in media sector

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THE Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) says it is concerned by reports of sexual harassment and sexual abuse in the media sector after several reports of such cases at state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

In a recent statement, the ZMC said it would not turn a blind eye to the cases. This comes after weeks of revelations that senior staffers like ZBC’s radios services director, Robson Mhandu, and Power FM station manager, Scot Matengambiri had been suspended over sexual harassment charges.

The two were joined by another two senior staffers, Albert Chekayi, who is the director of news and current affairs and bulletins manager, Effort Magaso, have also been suspended on similar charges.

And the ZMC said was “deeply concerned about sexual harassment and sexual abuse that is reported to be rampant in the media sector”.

“The reports received from our interface with practitioners and other stakeholders indicate that the practice has become endemic and deeply entrenched in the media industry,” reads the statement from ZMC.

“The ZMC is calling for zero tolerance to the scourge irrespective of the position, class, status and gender of the alleged perpetrators.

“There must be safe spaces for everyone in the newsrooms and other workspaces. As the regulator of the media industry in Zimbabwe, the ZMC shall not turn a blind eye to the cancer that threatens to destroy the industry.”

The ZMC urged survivors to report any violations and harassment to their organisations’ sexual harassment committees, immediate authorities, or to any preferred entity within the media sector, victim-friendly units of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, as well as the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, among other centres, to ensure that perpetrators are held accountable.

Stakeholders and partners must immediately hold disciplinary hearings after “the immediate suspension of the alleged perpetrators” to make room for unfettered investigations outside the intimidation of alleged victims.

“It goes without saying that the alleged perpetrator will then be expected to stay away from the said entity grounds so as to avoid any sort of intimidation of possible victims, as well as witnesses until investigations are complete.

“It is our hope that the validation of the Draft Sexual Harassment Policy that the ZMC held on Wednesday 27th September 2023 in Harare, continues gaining traction within the media sector to rid our society of this cancer.

“Further, it should be noted that the ZMC will not tolerate false reporting of sexual misconduct and harassment in the media fraternity.

“Should it be found that an individual has falsely accused another of sexual harassment, disciplinary proceedings are to be immediately held, paving the way for the suspension of the individual propagating falsehoods.”

Any false report must also be accompanied by a public apology as such allegations can seriously harm one’s professional and social standing, thus the ZMC will not be seen to be tolerating such malicious behaviour, said the ZMC.

It said it was anow looking forward to the adoption and launching of its Draft Sexual Harassment Policy which has zero tolerance for any form of sexual abuse.

“The Policy provides the framework for the entire Zimbabwe media industry. It is the ZMC’s sincere hope that all stakeholders remain professional in and outside their workspaces and continue to uphold the good reputation and ethical standards that the Zimbabwean media industry has created over the years,” said the ZMC.

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