Shamu set to announce crucial Media reforms

HARARE – PRESSURE from within and outside Zimbabwe to force the unity government to free the media might soon pay off.

At least three newspapers are ready to launch or relaunch as soon at the government gives them permission.

They include NewsDay, owned by Trevor Ncube, proprietor of the Mail & Guardian, The Financial Gazette daily and the banned Daily News.

There are no independent dailies in Zimbabwe and there is only one television channel — which is owned by the state.

In recent weeks, pressure has been mounting for the government to open up the media space and Media Minister Webster Shamu is expected to make an announcement today that will change Zimbabwe’s media landscape.

Shamu, a fierce opponent of independent media, has finally come around after intense pressure. The minister is expected to meet the editors of the independent media before making his announcement.

The move could endear Zimbabwe to the West. Sweden, the new EU chair, has promised to persuade European countries to help Zimbabwe if it can comply with EU stipulations.

Western donors have demanded “real change”, such as freeing the media, before they loosen their purse strings . Zimbabwe is in desperate need of a bail- out after 30 years of ruinous policies.

President Robert Mugabe’s former nemesis, Morgan Tsvangirai, now the prime minister, has promised that his government will deliver once the octogenarian honours all the agreements he has made.