MEMBERS of the Transport and Communications portfolio committee have been infuriated by the Media and Information Commission (MIC) for insinuating that last week’s media law reform workshop was a “regime change activists’ gathering”. Committee memb
ers say the meeting, organised by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) in the capital last week, was a genuine engagement for the improvement of media in Zimbabwe.
Speaking at the workshop in Harare over the weekend, committee chairman Leo Mugabe censured MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso for gross misrepresentation of facts.
“I was part of this meeting,” Mugabe said on Saturday.
“Over the past two days, I have not seen anything of regime change in nature as alleged by Mahoso, which makes his story a complete fabrication.
“In fact, I urge the convenors of this workshop to take issue with Mahoso and my committee will back you,” he said.
Mugabe was responding to Mahoso’s statement, published in The Herald last Friday, alleging that the MAZ clandestinely organised the workshop under the guise of media law reform, to push a regime change agenda.
Mahoso was formally invited to the workshop but did not attend. A day before he was supposed to make a presentation he issued the statement attacking the organisers of the workshop for pursuing a regime change agenda.
Portfolio committee members who attended the workshop included Mugabe, the Zanu PF MP for Makonde, Zhombe MP Daniel Mackencie Ncube (Zanu PF), Zengeza legislator Goodrich Chimbaira (MDC), Pumula-Luveve MP Esaph Mdlongwa (MDC), Chitungwiza senator Forbes Magadu (Zanu PF), and Hwange-Tsholotsho senator Josephine Moyo.
Magadu said he was baffled by Mahoso’s statement and said he should be made to explain his comments.
“He should be taken to task for his statement,” Magadu said.
“We cannot lead you into that action but you can be assured of our support,” he said.
Mdlongwa said the committee should examine the comments closely and make an appropriate response to Mahoso’s scurrilous attack.
Mahoso’s statement was issued at the start of a two-day parliamentary lobbying conference organised by MAZ to push for the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), Public Order and Security Act and Broadcasting Services Act, among others.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), Misa-Zimbabwe and the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe form the media alliance.
Mahoso said the purpose of the meeting was to create “a stilted platform from which the activists may engage in an orgy of anti-Zimbabwe diatribe intended to coincide with other recently staged events”.
By “recently staged events” Mahoso was apparently alluding to the September 13 marches organised by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which resulted in a brutal police assault on the ZCTU leaders and other members.
In a statement MAZ said the MIC chairman’s reference to “clandestine” meetings was baffling because Mahoso himself was invited.
“Mahoso, as has become the norm, will go to any lengths to protect his supper which comes by way of the contentious Aippa that created the statutory MIC he chairs,” MAZ said.
At a recent ZUJ workshop in Redcliff, acting Information minister Paul Mangwana encouraged journalists and other media personnel to come up with an all-inclusive voluntary media council.
“Show me a media council and I will show you a new MIC,” Mangwana said.
Observers said Mahoso’s accusation could stem from deep-seated fear that government would emasculate his MIC as soon as stakeholders in the media come up with a voluntary media council. — Staff Writer.