Information Minister says no to media reforms

Information Minister Webster Shamu has broken his silence to snub calls for media reforms, allegedly ordered by the principal leaders in the coalition government.


Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists last month that he had met with Robert Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who had all agreed reform of the boards of three key media institutions was needed, as the boards had been illegally appointed.

Tsvangirai said Shamu had been given a March 12th deadline to implement the changes. But Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba caused confusion immediately after the announcement by dismissing the claims, saying no reforms had been agreed to and the boards were legal.

Minister Shamu has been silent on the issue until now when, according to ZBC news, he said the boards of the ZBC and Broadcasting Authority (BAZ) are “here to stay” because they were appointed “legally” by government.

Shamu made the comments at the ZBC studios in Harare, where 14 brand new vehicles were unveiled by the state broadcaster. This is the second time the Minister has ignored calls to reconstitute the media boards.

“Some have questioned why we put former freedom fighters within the hierarchy of the board. This is a legally selected board which was constitutionally selected and until its term of office expires, it will remain in place,” Shamu said referring to the ZBC.

Tabani Moyo from MISA-Zimbabwe described the development as “political immaturity” and called on the coalition government to “come in the open” and clear the confusion on this issue.

Regarding the Broadcasting Authority, Moyo said in terms of the law it is not clear where nine out of the 12 members on that board came from. “We have an inalienable right to freedom of expression and media freedoms and government must resolve this critical issue,” Moyo said.

He explained the principal leaders need to come up with an amicable way forward which will result in the licensing of new players in broadcasting.

MISA-Zimbabwe released a statement Friday calling on the government to issue a joint press statement signed by all three coalition leaders. The group said this “will go a long way in putting the matter to finality”. – SW Radio Africa News

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