MDC-T to insist on media reforms before elections

The deputy Minister for Information, Murisi Zwizwai, has insisted that the MDC-T will not enter into any election without the media reforms that were agreed to by the Principals, as they are the key to a free and fair election.


Zwizwai was responding to contradictory comments made by Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba, who told the press this week that the Principals had not agreed to reconstitute the boards of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Mass Media Trust and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).

Zwizwai dismissed Charamba’s comments, saying he does not speak for the inclusive government or the Principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA). “Charamba is one of the hardliners within ZANU PF who are so resistant to change,” Zwizwai insisted.

The deputy Minister added: “Media reform is one of the requirements for the attainment of a free, fair and unquestionable election.”

After a meeting of the principals on Monday Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka, had said orders had been given to the Minister of Information, Webster Shamu, to oversee the reconstitution of the media boards. “They have to comply with that directive,” Tamborinyoka was quoted as saying.

But Mugabe’s mouthpiece George Charamba dismissed this, insisting no directive had come from the Principals “because the boards in question are in order”. Charamba also reportedly said: “There is no law that states that staffing a board is based on a political formula, MDC must go for elections, win and then appoint their board members.”

Zwizwai dismissed Charamba’s comments, saying the MDC-T will remain resolute and adamant about media reforms before any election.

Asked what the party is doing about the two FM licenses granted to ZANU PF allied organizations by the Broadcasting Authority, which is considered “illegal”, he said: “We totally don’t agree with the adjudication and licensing of players by BAZ. We demand a credible process.”

But adding to the confusion is the fact the MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube dismissed any media reforms agreed to by the principals. Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube told SW Radio Africa that agreements that include deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara are not recognized as binding because he does not represent any party. A legal battle over who heads the smaller MDC formation is still in the courts.

Many observers and media experts in Zimbabwe say the political crisis in the country has become messy, chaotic and embarrassing. This gives ZANU PF more time and space to continue their grip on power while everyone else bickers over minor issues, instead of uniting against the powers that be. – SW Radio Africa News

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