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Media Boards Slammed

MEDIA and Information deputy minister Jameson Timba yesterday slammed his boss Webster Shamu for appointing new board members to various state-run media institutions without consulting him. Some of the new appointees failed their interviews for the Zimbabwe Media Commission dismally.

Timba only saw the full list of new board members for six parastatals under his ministry in the Herald yesterday morning.

Sources who watched the main ZTV news bulletin with the deputy minister on Wednesday told the Zimbabwe Independent that he was visibly shocked when some of the names were announced.

“The minister was totally shocked that new board members had been appointed to such important parastatals without his knowledge and without his input,” a source said.

“Minister Shamu did not see the benefit of my wise counsel in this matter,” Timba said.

“Ordinarily, any minister benefits from having a deputy to consult and advise him or her. It is, however, the prerogative of that minister to seek advice (or not) from his deputy.”

MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa criticised the appointments saying they were partisan.

“The people were fished from Zanu PF rivers and ponds when there are other rivers. These characters have been appointed on a Zanu PF card,” he said.

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said there was no consultation within the inclusive government.

Meanwhile, Chamisa and media analysts have lambasted the militarisation of Zimbabwe Newspapers, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), Transmedia, Kingstons and New Ziana boards, which they described as sinister.

In addition to the appointment of several retired military personnel to the six state-run media institutions, the most shocking appointment, the analysts said, was that of former chairperson of the disbanded Media and Information Commission, Tafataona Mahoso, to chair BAZ which is responsible for issuing broadcasting licences.

“This portrays a sinister motive.The way Mahoso has behaved disqualifies him from any institution, more so BAZ. He does not even qualify to be chairman of a burial society,” Chamisa said.

Mahoso is responsible for the closure of four publications, The Daily News, The Tribune, Daily News on Sunday and Weekly Times.

He came near the bottom of the list of candidates in his interview for the Zimbabwe Media Commission in August.

The director of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe), Takura Zhangazha said the appointments were arbitrary, more political than professional, undemocratic and unnecessary.

“The army has no business in civil bodies. Because of the negative perception of the army, it would have been preferable not to appoint them to those boards. Militarising the media does not help anyone,” he said.

National coordinator of the National Constitutional Assembly Ernest Mudzengi said it was clear that Zanu PF opposed media reforms.

“These appointments turn the clock back in terms of reforms. I am concerned about the militarisation of civil institutions. What is the point of having so many military people?” Mudzengi asked.

“Is it not a confirmation that Zanu PF is still holding the reins of power? As far as the military is concerned, it is for its own benefit?”

Dongozi said the military had no business in the media.

“Journalists don’t want gun-toters, serving or not, in their newsrooms,” he said.

 

Faith Zaba

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