A new hope for vendors as ZMC licences papers

newspaper_vendor_HARARE - The licensing of four daily newspapers and a weekly by the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) has brought excitement and joy among newspaper vendors many of whom were left unemployed after President Robert Mugabes previous government closed several independent newspapers over the past six years.

Speaking to The Zimbabwean on Sunday in Harare last week, vendors were closed said they were looking forward to more job opportunities and better remuneration as more newspapers hit the streets over the coming months.

Taneta Mandaza who used to sell copies of The Daily News and The Tribune said he was hoping to get to his job back with the return of the daily paper that was the largest circulating in the country at the time of its closure in 2003.

The closure of newspapers forced me to resort to selling airtime recharge cards whose income was not enough to fend for my three children as compared to the commission a used to get when I was a newspaper vendor. I hope the opening up of the media space is going to improve our lives as vendors. I have since approached my former employers who have promised to re-engage me, he said.

Farai Gaidzanwa, a newspaper vendor at the corner of Harare’s Hebert Chitepo and Fourth Street said the decision by the Zimbabwe Media Commission to license more dailies would promote competition in the once monopolised newspaper market.

The already existing newspapers such as The Herald will now have to face competition from the other papers; this in turn is going to improve on the quality of the content.

We will have more papers in stock and this will also enhance our income given that vending is what is keeping us and our families going, he said.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists Secretary General Foster Dongozi said the coming on board of new media players would see genuine reforms in the local media that could pave way for alternative news sources for the Zimbabweans.

He said: The licensing of these new papers will not only benefit the local journalists but the Zimbabweans in general as they will have access to diverse media which will allow them to make informed decisions and participate meaningfully to the development of the country.

It will also benefit the local journalists through increased sources of employment. Competition on the media market will help in encouraging media employers compete for the best journalists and ward off these slave wages that the local journalists are being given.

The local media industry has for a long time been characterised by a few independent papers that have given a platform to alternative voices while the government-owned but Zanu (PF)-controlled newspaper, radio and television have been mainly used to propagate the views of President Robert Mugabes party.

While the ZMC has moved to open the newspaper industry the airwaves remains dominated by government-owned radio and television with the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe doing little to allow new players in the industry.

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