Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF 'too scared' to open up airwaves

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The chairman of the parliamentary committee on media, information and communication technology claimed that ZANU PF is 'too scared' to open up the country's airwaves.

 Settlement Chikwinya, the MDC-T MP for Mbizvo in KweKwe, said while the press has opened up in a number of ways in the wake of the GPA, reform of the electronic media is still very much an uphill battle. The MP pointed out that Zimbabwe, which gained independence in 1980, lags behind countries like South Africa and Namibia, that attained independence well after Zimbabwe but are forging ahead with multiple, independent TV and radio stations.

The legislator said his committee will summon Webster Shamu, the Information Minister to interrogate him on why he has failed to implement the reforms, as directed by the principals to the GPA. 'The ZANU PF side of government developed cold feet to open up the airwaves, while there is defiance by Shamu to licence independent radio and television stations,' Chikwinya said.

The MP, one of the rising stars in the MDC-T, said that the free flow of information can help empower individuals to take full control of their aspirations and enable them to shape their political and social concerns.

'The moment you issue out licences to broadcasters with independent editorial policies, the people of Zimbabwe will become more informed and make better choices which are most likely not going to be in favour of ZANU PF.

'The media environment is such that journalists still face government repression and state media still largely acts as a government mouthpiece,' the MP added.

Chikwinya said an increased media space provides alternative and multiple sources of information that can help electorates make informed choices before any poll, such as Zimbabwe's next general election.

Chikwenya went on to say: 'But what you a get is a shameful disclosure by a ZANU PF MP that he has banned people in his constituency from reading independent newspapers or listening to radio stations like SW Radio Africa and Studio 7.

'I was present when the MP said that during a media debate in Kariba but I'm also happy to note that MPs from his party strongly disapproved and rebuked him for saying that.'

Zachariah Ziyambi is the ZANU PF MP for Chakari in the Midlands who shocked fellow MPs during a media workshop organized by MISA-Zimbabwe, when he disclosed that members in his constituency are banned from tuning in to foreign based radio stations.