via Take government benevolence with caution, media players warned | SW Radio Africa by Mthulisi Mathuthu October 30, 2013
There is a ‘definite intention’ on the part of the Zimbabwean government to open up the airwaves to new players but not for the benefit of human rights and democracy, a leading media activist has said.
The outgoing executive director of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe, Takura Zhangazha, said Wednesday that while reforms in the broadcasting sector were ‘most likely’ going to happen, “quantity will far outweigh quality.”
Speaking on SW Radio Africa’s Cutting Edge programme, Zhangazha warned that new players will most probably concentrate more on business and entrainment content, as opposed to human rights and democracy. He warned media players not to give the government the ‘benefit of the doubt’ but instead adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.
Already, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has invited applications for 25 ‘commercial radio’ licences.
But Zhangazha warned that while the application process would probably be a ‘free for all’ only people with too much money and access to technology will benefit from the government ‘benevolence’.
On Information Minister Jonathan Moyo’s current conciliatory stance towards the media, Zhangazha warned journalists to remain ‘cautious’. Since his reappointment to government Moyo has been touring media houses urging cordial relations. Moyo has also been seen shaking hands with journalists with whom he previously clashed.
Zhangazha said unless the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was repealed, the media environment would not change much and journalists would still be faced with the same old challenges.
Speaking on the same programme, deported international correspondent Mercedes Sayagues told SW Radio Africa that Moyo’s sincerity can only be proved if he allowed her, together with fellow deportee Andrew Meldrum, back in the country.
Sayagues was deported from Zimbabwe in 2001 while Meldrum was deported in 2002. Also deported around the same time was BBC’s Joseph Winter.
In all the dramatic incidents which drew international outcry Moyo played a key role. Moyo was also blamed for the closure of the Daily News in 2003 and is widely known to have crafted the repressive AIPPA legislation that help clampdown of media freedom.