Tsvangirai cancels ZMC meeting

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday forced to cancel a crucial meeting with the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) after the majority of commissioners snubbed him.

Tsvangirai wanted to meet with the commission to understand the problems they are facing with regards to enacting media reforms in the country.

His spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the meeting was in line with a mandate given to Tsvangirai by coalition government partners to drive reforms necessary for credible elections.

Efforts to obtain a comment from ZMC chairperson Godfrey Majonga were fruitless as he was said to be in meetings all day.

Tamborinyoka confirmed the snub, saying only three commissioners turned up.

“What is disturbing is that this is an independent commission which is not an appendage of the ministry of Information. The commission should do their work efficiently if we are to achieve a free and fair election,” Tamborinyoka said.

He said the ZMC action was a deliberate attempt to resist transformation of the media environment.

There has been very little change in the media environment since the formation of the coalition government in 2009, particularly regarding the airwaves.

Newspapers like the Daily News were forcibly shut down in 2003, have been given licences to operate but the airwaves remain a problem with government dominating radio and television.

Last year, two radio stations, Star FM and ZiFM were awarded licences to operate but one of them is a subsidiary of Zimpapers, which is State-controlled while the other one is owned by a Zanu PF activist, Supa Mandiwanzira.

Nyasha Nyakunu, senior programmes manager with Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa ), which has been calling for media reforms, said his organisation hoped that the issue of media reforms would be pursued vigorously.

“We are made to understand that if the draft constitution were to be adopted, Parliament will convene to look into the legislation to see that it is in sync with the draft constitution and the regional and international instruments that Zimbabwe is a party to,” Nyakunu said.

Sadc and the African Union, who are guarantors of the power sharing Global Political Agreement signed between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations, say reforms in the media and security sector should be prioritised before elections are held. - Thelma Chikwanha, Features Editor

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