In the early years of the new century, when the voice for change was becoming increasingly robust, Mahoso earned notoriety for censuring newspapers that openly criticised the then-ruling Zanu PF party.
Under his direction several newspapers were closed, most notably the Daily News and The Tribune. Now that a number of new players have been licensed – and they are effectively doing their job of reporting issues as they are rather than in the blinkered manner of state-controlled newspapers – Mahoso is a worried man.
He is aware of the power of the broadcast media and knows the consequences for his party if that area is opened up, particularly now with elections impending next year.
He would want to use the powers dubiously vested in him by his political handlers to deny more players a licence. As chairman of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) board — a position other parties to the Global Political Agreement contest — he has cooked up spurious reasons for refusing to license more players.
He claimed last week before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Media, Information and Communication that his organisation had neither the capacity nor the expertise to license new broadcasters because of funding problems.
But why should Mahoso see the lack of monitoring and regulation apparatus as the main obstacle to licensing new players when the rationale behind opening up the airwaves is, in the first place, to give divergent schools of thought a voice? Why does he want to monitor and regulate when the letter and spirit of opening up media space is to give people freedom of speech and freedom to access information from a multiplicity of sources?
Mahoso is failing to shed his image as a partisan control freak and does not deserve to be at the helm of BAZ. We need somebody there who the media can respect.
If the basic freedoms that the GPA seeks to guarantee are to be enjoyed by the generality of our people, change is urgently needed.