THE Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) yesterday expressed concerns over President Robert Mugabe’s remarks on appointments of editors at the State media saying this proved reforms were needed.
MMPZ said although Mugabe reserved the right to criticise his ministers, the implications of his comments were a source of grave concern, particularly his insinuation that the State media should exclusively serve Zanu PF’s interests.
Mugabe attacked Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo’s appointment of some editors at the State media saying their political affiliation was questionable.
MMPZ indicated that it believed there was nothing wrong in appointing journalists who have previously worked for the private media and that such appointments should only be based on merit.
“Mugabe’s criticism of the appointment of the State media editors, and his reported demand for an investigation into how journalists perceived to be anti-Zanu PF had been appointed, clearly illustrates the importance of these media toZanu PF and Mugabe’s determination to ensure they remain firmly under the control of the ruling party,” the body said.
“Such interference in the operations of these media constitutes a clear violation of the principles governing the
public media concept and the provisions of Zimbabwe’s new Constitution. Such interference also violates regional and international protocols, such as the Sadc Principles Governing Democratic Elections, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Zimbabwe is signatory.”
MMPZ stated that Section 61 (4) of the Constitution declares: “All State-owned media of communication must be free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcasts or other communications, be impartial and afford fair opportunity for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions.”
Section 90 of the Constitution demands that the president “must uphold, defend, obey and respect the Constitution” as the supreme law of the land and “promote unity . . . and respect the diversity of the people of Zimbabwe”.
“Mugabe’s utterances reinforce long-held concerns that the State media are nothing but extensions of Zanu PF’s propaganda machinery urgently in need of far reaching reforms that re-establish them as independent national public service media institutions free of political control in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.”
MMPZ said Mugabe’s utterances confirm the fears held by many that Zanu PF was in charge of the State media.