13 days until end of media reform ultimatum

Media and Information Minister Webster Shamu now has 13 days to meet an ultimatum to implement key media reforms, which could usher in some long awaited freedom in Zimbabwe’s media space.

Webster Shamu
Webster Shamu

The ZANU PF Minister has been ordered to reconstitute the boards of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and the Mass Media Trust.

Shamu was given the three week ultimatum last week Monday after a meeting of the principals in the unity government. The three leaders, Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy Arthur Mutambara ‘agreed’ that the boards must be reconstituted, but there are doubts this agreement will translate into action.

A similar agreement was recently met over the post of national police chief, with the principals ‘agreeing’ that Augustine Chihuri remain in the post temporarily, until a replacement was found. But in the following days, ZANU PF announced that Chihuri had been reappointed until 2014.

Meanwhile, the pressure continues to build for real media reforms, and this week Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) started handing over its petition, calling for reform at the ZBC. WOZA has collected almost 100 thousand petition signatures calling for the national broadcaster to reform, as well as a reduction of licensing fees for areas that only have one television channel.

Since Monday seven separate protests involving 680 members have been conducted in Bulawayo, where petition signatures were handed over to local post offices, which are the paying point for ZBC.

WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that they are calling on the post office to deliver the petitions, along with the fee payments, to ZBC. She explained that WOZA was left with little choice but to seek this course of action “because the ZBC offices are surrounded by soldiers and dangerous.” – SW Radio Africa News

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