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Statutory media regulatory body gazetted
February 23, 2010

President Robert Mugabe on 11 February 2010 gazetted the establishment of the long awaited Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) amid expectations that the Commission will immediately call for applications for licenses for new and old players in the print media.

Former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, broadcaster Godfrey Majonga will chair the nine-member ZMC and will be deputised by Nqobile Nyathi, a former editor with the banned newspaper, The Daily News.The other members are Journalist and Lawyer Chris Mhike, Former Zimbabwean Ambassador to China Chris Mutsvangwa, Freelance Journalist Miriam Madziwa, Former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings' Chief Executive Henry Muradzikwa, Former Zimbabwe Union of Journalist (ZUJ) President Mathew Takaona, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Division Head, Millicent Mombeshora and National University of Science and Technology Lecturer Lawton Hikwa.

MISA -Zimbabwe National Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya welcomed the gazetting of the ZMC as "the first step towards comprehensive media reforms". "We hope the government will complement this development with the repeal of such laws as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Acts (AIPPA), the Broadcasting Services Acts (BSA), and other obnoxious provisions in other Acts which hinder media freedoms," said Ngwenya.

ZimInd Chief Executive Raphael Khumalo said: "Our immediate expectation is that the commissioners should start working. In fact, they should have already started working since the gazette states that their appointment is with effect from 11 February 2010. We expect them to start inviting applications (for licenses) soon". ZimInd which publishes the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard weekly newspapers has been waiting in the wings for the establishment of the ZMC in order to be licensed and launch its daily newspaper, Newsday.

"It is, however, still worrying that this commission is a partisan political creation. It is staffed with political appointees who have narrow political mandates to defend the interests of their parties than the public interest," said Dumisani Muleya spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights.

The statutory ZMC is the successor body to the state-controlled Media and Information Commission which is infamous for the closure of The Daily News, Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and Weekly Times in terms of the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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