New Zim media-reform body begins work

A new commission meant to reform Zimbabwe’s repressive media laws has begun its work, three months after its members were appointed, the body said on Friday.

The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) held its inaugural meeting in Harare on Thursday, as South African President Jacob Zuma was wrapping up talks with the feuding leaders of a fragile unity government.

“The commission has resolved to expeditiously fulfil its mandate” under the power-sharing accord, the body said in a statement.

“The ZMC will do everything in its power to meet the expectations of the nation and stakeholders. It has resolved to move with speed to introduce and implement programmes aimed at promoting development of the Zimbabwean media.”

The new commission replaces a body appointed in 2002, when veteran President Robert Mugabe’s government introduced stringent media laws that resulted in the expulsion of foreign journalists and the closure of a popular newspaper renowned for its anti-government stance.

Under the unity deal that brought Mugabe together with erstwhile rival Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister in February last year, the government is meant to commit to greater media freedom.

In a sign of easing media restrictions, Mugabe earlier this month held a meet-the-media briefing with journalists based in Harare.

Greater media freedom is one of the key demands of Western donors, who are insisting on political reforms before committing to major new aid to the unity government. — AFP

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