Chairperson Gugu Msibi has officially left the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) after serving her five years at the helm of the South African Parliament-controlled organisation.
But she did not just leave unnoticed. She was praised by President Jacob Zuma this week for her ‘dedication and contribution in promoting an enabling environment for media development and diversity’.
“The President referred to Msibi’s leadership and direction to having contributed not only towards transforming media access, ownership and control patterns in our country, but also that our citizens are able to access information in a language of their choice,” the MMDA said in a statement.
Msibi has been replaced by Phelisa Nkomo, the statement added.
However, Msibi will be well remembered by the media for standing up to MDDA CEO Lumko Mtimde in 2011 after his supportive views on the ANC-proposed controversial Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) were said to have clashed with the media agency’s ideology, which consists of diversity and transformation in newsrooms and media ownership and control, among others.
Many observers believe MAT will stifle the diversity of views and may lead to fear and self-censorship in newsrooms.
Sensing that Mtimde’s views were generating some sort of conflict of interest, the MDDA boat under the captaincy of Msibi quickly distanced itself from the CEO’s views.
Msibi issued a statement to say that the board was satisfied that Mtimde had consistently emphasized, and stated that his views on the proposed media appeals tribunal were his own and not those of the MDDA.
Mtimde is a senior member of the ruling ANC and the South African Communist Party.
Despite that ‘little misunderstanding’, the two leaders put their differences aside and carried on as if nothing had happened – for the sake of the organisation and its ideals, one of which is to see the South African media transform in the real sense of the word.
Msibi is a former SABC political journalist, and a senior producer of SAfm radio station.
She also spent two years as head of broadcast training at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, (IAJ), which involved training journalists and government medial liaison officers on media management.
She holds a BA (Journalism and Economics) from Durban University of Technology, a Management Advanced Programme (MAP) from Wits Business School and an MBA from Bond University in Australia.
Photo by GCIS, South Africa President Jacob Zuma chatting with Gugu Msibi (r), while CEO Lumko Mtimde looks on.