“Yesterday’s (Friday) granting of the two licences is the final nail in the coffin of media plurality in Zimbabwe. It is unacceptable,” Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka said.
Tamborinyoka said the announcement “is a farce that flies in the face of true media reforms and media plurality in Zimbabwe. Zimpapers publishes The Herald newspaper, a media vehicle for Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. Mugabe and Tsvangirai had agreed to name new members to the BAZ, but the announcement came before the changes were made, the spokesman said.
Media in Zimbabwe have operated under strict rules for the last decade, with several newspapers forced to shut down while local journalists and foreign correspondents have been deported and harassed by police.
Media reform remains one of the key disagreements between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who accuses the 87-year-old of riding roughshod over reforms agreed to in their ruling unity pact.
“The reconstitution of BAZ is one of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement and therefore the two awards are basically a non event,” MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said.
“The Zanu PF front has given licences to Zanu PF-related institutions and that does not translate to the liberation of the airwaves but strengthening of Zanu PF’s monopoly in both print and electronic.”
— AFP/OUR STAFF