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Cablegate: Pro-Government Media Commission Named

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 001357

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/PD, AF/S, AF/RA

NSC FOR JENFAYI FRAZER

LONDON FOR GURNEY

PARIS FOR NEARY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO ZI
SUBJECT: PRO-GOVERNMENT MEDIA COMMISSION NAMED


1. On June 1 Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
appointed a six-member Media and Information Commission
to license media organizations, accredit journalists,
and assume other functions related to controlling the
media in Zimbabwe. The Media and Information
Commission is a statutory body mandated by the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Moyo named Dr. Tafataona Mahoso, head of the journalism
department at Harare Polytechnic and strong supporter
of the Mugabe administration and media control, as
executive chairman of the Commission. Moyo also named
two former editors of state-controlled newspapers --
Pascal Mukondiwa, former editor of the "Sunday Mail"
and Jonathan Maphenduka, former assistant editor of the
"Chronicle" -- to the panel. Other Commission members
include retired Information Ministry official Alpinos
Makoni; Dr. Rino Zhuwara, the head of Media Studies at
the University of Zimbabwe, and Mr. Sephath Mlambo, the
principal of the government-run Mkoba Teachers'
College. All members have been appointed for three
years.

2. In a statement released on June 1, the government
said the Commission was set up to ensure that "all
Zimbabweans enjoy improved access to information and
achieve effective ownership and control of mass media
services in the country." The Commission would also
"enforce professional and ethical standards in the
media industry, as well as mount investigations and
inquiries on media conduct."

3. The Zimbabwean office of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) is planning to protest the
monolithic, pro-government composition of the
Commission. Media industry leaders, international
correspondents and journalists' unions complained that
they were not consulted on the appointments.

4. Comment: During AIPPA's tortuous passage through
parliament, critics warned that the Commission was
likely to be packed with government supporters and
become a rubber stamp for Information Minister Moyo's
plans for controlling the media in Zimbabwe. The
composition of the Commission's membership confirms
those fears and sets up another mechanism for increased
government control of all media operating in Zimbabwe.

SULLIVAN

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