Media hangman Mahoso takes aim at us

We are not surprised by Tafataona Mahoso’s announcement that he has recommended to the government that his Media and Information Commission (MIC) should be allowed to extend its grip on media freedom in Zimbabwe


by regulating newspaper distributors, as well as publishers and journalists.


We believe this proposal is aimed specifically at The Zimbabwean, which has been a thorn in his side ever since it was launched in February last year. He has made his feelings well known through his abuse of the state-controlled media, where he spews venom week after week against any form of freedom of the press.


Even the Zimbabwean courts have had to admit that Mahoso cannot be trusted to judge fairly when it comes to freedom of expression. This was proved conclusively by the recent ANZ case, in which Judge Makarau forbade Mahoso’s entire Commission from anything to do with the application for a licence to re-commence publication of The Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday.


Zimbabwe’s diabolical anti-freedom of expression legislation – AIPAA – gives Mahoso almost unlimited power to decide on the fate of individual newspapers and journalists within the country. But does not extend – yet – to foreign publishers.


As a foreign news publication, therefore, we do have to not ask Mahoso for permission to publish The Zimbabwean. Neither do we have to put up with his interference, his censorship, nor publish his screeds of incoherent vitriol – as local newspapers are forced to do.


This has obviously frustrated the destroyer of independent newspapers to the point where he can no longer accept the situation. Hence his proposals to government to extend his powers to encompass local distributors – under the spurious conjecture that foreigners might use “unknown distributors to circulate material hostile to the government on the eve of a major election”.


Furthermore, Mahoso’s behaviour regarding the media is notoriously inconsistent. For example he closed down The Tribune and its sister newspaper the Weekend Tribune, on the grounds that they did not inform him of a change of ownership.


Meanwhile, the Financial Gazette changed hands early this year, when it was taken over by the Central Intelligence Organisation. Mahoso’s silence, in deference to the men in dark glasses, was deafening!

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