Zanu (PF) tightens grip on media

The award of two new broadcasting licences to Zanu (PF)-aligned organisations has come as no surprise.

Supa Mandiwanzira
Supa Mandiwanzira

Former ZBC reporter, Supa Mandiwanzira, who got a licence through his AB Communications’ Zi Radio, has been touted as the Zanu (PF) candidate for Nyanga in the next elections. He is former chairman of the Affirmative Action Group.

Mandiwanzira owns 70% of the shares in Zi Radio. His partners, Sisulu and Herbert Nkala, former chairman of Zimpapers, hold the balance.

Despite having no experience in broadcasting, Zimpapers received a licence for its Talk Radio. The group dominates the print media, publishing several national and provincial newspapers. It is widely regarded as a mouthpiece for Zanu (PF) and editors and staff are appointed for their loyalty to the party.

Its chairman, Paul Chimedza, has expressed an interest in standing for Zanu (PF) in Gutu South, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Eliphas Mukonoweshuro. Zimpapers Board member and advisor to the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Munyaradzi Kereke, is said to be interested in standing for Zanu (PF) in Bikita West at the next election.

The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists last week broke ties with his company, which sponsored the national journalism awards, because of his involvement in the arrest of two journalists on charges of criminal libel.

Njabulo Ncube, chairman of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, said the licensing was a sham. “It doesn’t take media freedom anywhere. These are cosmetic reforms,” he said.

Two independent broadcasters, Radio VOP and Kiss FM, had been shortlisted.

Neither of these has Zanu (PF) connections. VOP heeded the GPA’s call for foreign- based radio stations to cease their operations abroad and return to broadcast locally.

The denial of their licence forces them to continue operating from exile.

Zanu (PF) continues to ignore calls by civil society and the MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to re-constitute the Broadcasting authority of Zimbabwe responsible for issuing licences. The board was unilaterally appointed by the Minister of Information, Webster Shamu, in contravention of the GPA. Tsvangirai says the board is thus illegal and its decisions should be null and void.

Its chairman, Tafataona Mahoso, is a self-confessed Zanu (PF) stalwart. As chairman of the now defunct Media Information Commission he was responsible for the closure of five newspapers, including the Daily News, which earned him the title “media hangman”.

Board of BAZ

The board includes: Tafataona Mahoso (chair) – media hangman

Primrose Kurasha (deputy chair) – vice chancellor Open University

Ret’d Colonel Reuben Mqwayi – ZNA

Ret’d Brig-Gen Elasto Madzingira –ZNA

Chief Gambiza – traditional leader

Susan Makore – former head of marketing, ZBC

Vimbai Chivaura – English lecturer UZ, Zanu (PF) commentator

Geoffrey Chada – former exec sec Zim Mass Media Trust

Post published in: News

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