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statement on the launch of Zimpapers' Harare-Metro tabloid
September 08, 2009
of the daily newspaper H-Metro (Harare Metro) by the state-controlled
Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers) on 7 September 2009 with the
sanction of the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity is
reflective of the skewed and undemocratic media environment in the
While MISA-Zimbabwe recognises
the need for media pluralism and diversity and commends any efforts
towards enhancing such diversity, the licensing of any new media
houses or publications should be transparent and in terms of the
It is, however,
apparent in this instance that the government, through the responsible
Ministry has chosen to use its political prerogative to expand state
funded newspapers in the country to the distinct disadvantage of
other media players awaiting licensing in terms of Constitutional
Amendment Number 19 which establishes the Zimbabwe Media Commission
This particular move
by the government can only be considered as arbitrary and distinctly
against the spirit and letter of pursuing wholesale and non-discriminatory
media reforms that enhance freedom of expression and access to information.
This is even more glaring at a time when publishing companies such
as the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), Zimind Publishers
and Financial Gazette, among others, have been instructed by the
responsible Ministry to await establishment of the ZMC for them
to be permitted to publish their own dailies.
It is MISA-Zimbabwe's
view that the government is exhibiting particular bias towards its
own stable, Zimpapers. This bias can only be construed to portray
and project the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity as
representing a government that is acting to pre-empt other competitors
in a manner that is outside the very laws that it is asking other
stakeholders to uphold.
It is therefore of the utmost urgency for the government, through
the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, to explain to
the media fraternity as well as the Zimbabwean public as to whether
the state controlled print media is above the law as well as cite
the precise constitutional and regulatory provisions that allowed
H-Metro to be published.
In raising these concerns,
MISA-Zimbabwe remains guided by Section 5 of the resolutions of
the Media All-Stakeholders Conference held in December of 2008 to
which members of the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe are signatory:
5. Print Media: We hold
that the print media remains a key component of Zimbabwe's
media diversity, and should be allowed to operate independently
without undue influence from the state or government of the day.
We also hold that the state and any government of the day should
not have any direct stake or interest in the ownership or management
of the print media as this compromises the sector's diversity
and independence. Where the state has had direct control in the
media, we recommend that it disinvests in these print media houses
and allow for independent control of the same.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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