via Moyo media panel handed $1.6 million 3 July 2014 by Staff Reporter
INFORMATION Minister Jonathan Moyo has defended his setting up of the Information Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI), a blotted team of media practitioners drawing “hefty” sitting allowances during its outreach meetings.
Moyo was giving oral evidence before the William Dhewa chaired Parliament’s committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Thursday.
He further revealed the Geoffrey Nyarota led probe team was funded to the tune of $1,6 million by Treasury.
“The total budget for IMPI is $1,6 million and it’s from Treasury and it was specifically requested for that purpose and it was approved for that purpose,” Moyo said.
The 25-member panel, set up in December, has been touring the country soliciting for citizens’ views on how to reconfigure the country’s media industry.
But government’s readiness to splash on the team’s activities has infuriated some law makers who saw this as an unnecessary waste adding the panel was investigating issues which are already in the public domain.
Fiery Buhera South MP, Joseph Chinotimba Wednesday went further to accuse government of spending generously on a group of journalists while neglecting the plight of war veterans and their offspring.
Moyo, who did not attend Wednesday’s parliamentary session where Chinotimba posed the question, was met with the same questions Thursday.
“We think that it’s very important for us policy makers to accept that we don’t know everything,” Moyo said.
“One of the problems we have in this country is that … you bring an important issue, they say ‘oh, we already know everything about it’.
“You would be surprised what the ordinary people there have by way of contribution in terms of policy making and legislative making. We have taken that view and we are happy with that view.”
Legislators also questioned why the panel moved on “four buses” and the source of the buses.
Moyo responded: “I don’t think the methodology is simply defined in terms of how many people are in a vehicle or are on a bus.
“The methodology is one of an outreach process; they are professional people who have been employed there to design an instrument.”
The panel has 15 terms of reference and after the local outreach process, it is set to tour Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia to compare notes with the countries that Moyo says have been through the same programme.
President Robert Mugabe last month lashed at Moyo for becoming cosy with “MDC linked” journalists to a point of appointing them into senior state media positions.
Mugabe was also speaking in apparent reference to Nyarota, once editor of the Daily News, which has maintained a critical stance towards his regime.
Observers say Moyo, a cunning politician, had deliberately picked on influential media personalities for the perceived IMPI “bribery” as a way of drawing the country’s media to his “faction” in the divided Zanu PF party.