Zimbabwe: Prime Minister urges Media Commission to register new media houses

Regulation & Policy

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on 19 March 2010 urged the newly constituted statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to speedily register new media houses.

In a meeting with members of the Commission, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said the ZMC should rapidly implement its mandate in terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the enabling Constitutional Amendment No 19. “ZMC is an independent commission, not under the control of any individual and has the responsibility to ensure that the media environment in Zimbabwe reflects multiple voices and views,” he said.

He said the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity role was to help the Commission get access to Treasury and Parliament. The meeting was attended by Media, Information and Publicity Minister, Webster Shamu, his deputy Jameson Timba. Also in attendance was Commission Chairperson Godfrey Majonga, his deputy Nqobile Nyathi and commissioners Mathew Takaona and Henry Muradzikwa.

Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s comments dovetail with President Robert Mugabe’s assertions during a meeting with the country’s editors early this month. President Mugabe said the Commission should get on with its work contrary to earlier assertions that the commissioners should be sworn in by the president before starting their work.

The chairman of the Zimbabwe Media Commission, Godfrey Majonga, last Friday pledged that his new board will move with speed to license new independent newspapers, television and radio stations.

This follows the board's inaugural meeting in Harare on Thursday and on Friday, the board held a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, his deputy Thokozani Khupe, Information minister Webster Shamu and permanent secretary in the ministry George Charamba.

The ZMC is the successor statutory body to the now defunct Media and Information Commission (MIC). Prime Minister Tsvangirai said the ZMC and MIC were separate entities adding that the commission must engage its own secretariat, He said in the event of the Commission using the MIC secretariat to expedite the processing of applications, it would do so on the basis of short term contracts.

Meanwhile, the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) is set for repeal before end of the year according to the Prime Minister’s Government Work Plan. Four newspapers, The Daily News, Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and Weekly Times were closed under the draconian AIPPA. Several journalists were also harassed, threatened or arrested under AIPPA.

The repealing of AIPPA will come by way of the Freedom of Information Bill. The Government would also push the Media Practitioners Bill that would provide for regulation of journalists in line with SADC regional best practices.

Media Institute of Southern Africa