Mahoso at it again

OWN CORRESPONDENT

HARARE – As it cannot legally control or ban The Zimbabwean, the notorious Media and Information Commission (MIC) is now planning to target our


distributor in Zimbabwe. The MIC, under chairman Tafataona Mahoso, has been responsible for the closure of five newspapers since 2003.


Under its draconian AIPPA law newspapers published in Zimbabwe, and all journalists working in the country, have to register, pay and be licensed by the MIC. But the law is silent on newspapers published externally and circulating locally.


Since the Zimbabwean was launched on February 11 last year, Mahoso has mounted a personal vendetta against the newspaper and its publisher, using his unrestricted access to the state media to denounce them in the most intemperate language at every opportunity.


“It is essential that we should regulate both the publishers and the distributors. Those distributors which import foreign periodicals should indicate where they are procuring such periodicals,” Mahoso told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Communications this week.


Using scare-mongering tactics to alarm the committee, Mahoso said he “imagined” what would happen in the event that unknown distributors circulated material hostile to the government on the eve of a major election.


Chair of the committee, Leo Mugabe, questioned the commission’s position in relation to the registration of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe and The Tribune. Mahoso ducked both questions saying the matters were sub judice.


But the ANZ case was concluded in the courts recently when Judge Rita Makarau ruled that the MIC board’s impartiality was tainted by the proven bias of Mahoso and barred all members of the MIC from involvement in the consideration of ANZ’s application. The MIC has not appealed against this decision.


In terms of AIPPA, this means that the minister of information, Tichaona Jokonya, should now appoint a special board to consider ANZ’s application, or simply instruct the MIC secretariat to issue a licence to them.


The ANZ management has already written to the minister appealing for his intervention. Legal adviser Mordecai Mahlangu has expressed disappointment that the minister had not yet responded to the letters of appeal, written on February 22 and March 13.


Mahoso has also misused his position to hold newspapers and journalists to ransom. Earlier this year he refused to accredit journalists from The Independent until the paper retracted a story about internal squabbling in the MIC.


True to form, he told the commission that there was a need to investigate local journalists who were writing articles for foreign news organisations who he accused of being “hostile to Zimbabwe”, singling out Voice of America for special mention.

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