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Zimbabwe's information minister threatens media organisations

(MISA/IFEX) - 18 September 2012 - Zimbabwe's Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Webster Shamu, on 12 September, 2012, threatened to revoke the operating licences of media organisations, which he accused of abusing media freedom to denounce the country and its leadership.

Minister Shamu issued what he said was the final warning against media organisations denigrating President Robert Mugabe and the country's leadership. Shamu said this as he addressed mourners during the burial of former Harare province's Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association vice chairman, Christopher Pasipamire, at the Heroes Acre at Warren Hills cemetery in the capital city, Harare.

Ironically, Shamu's threats came a day before the launch of the statutory Zimbabwe Media Commission's media council - the Zimbabwe Media Council.

"We will work together with the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to revoke those licences because we cannot watch while the country's leadership is assaulted," said Shamu.


The minister's statements vitiate against the principles of media freedom and media self-regulation as stipulated under the Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of Expression in Africa.

The declaration stipulates that media self-regulation is the best system of instilling professionalism in the media.

The minister, let alone the government, cannot play a watchdog role over the media as is the case with the statutory ZMC. It is the media that should play that role over the three arms of the state to foster access to information, freedom of expression, transparency and accountability on the part of public officials and institutions.

Shamu's remarks, which should be widely condemned, smack of sinister intentions to silence alternative and diverse views through threats of closure of newspapers under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

MISA-Zimbabwe therefore reiterates its unequivocal support for media self-regulation as epitomised through the establishment of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) and in terms of the Banjul Declaration.

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