Zanu PF Walks-out of Media Commissioners interviews, Mugabe to hand-pick

Harare – INTERVIEWS to choose candidates for the Media Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe were mired in controversy and deadlocked yesterday amid reports that a team of human resources experts that drafted the questions and MDC interviewers failed all candidates perceived to be sympathetic to Zanu-PF while passing pro-MDC applicants.\r\n

This led to the abandonment of the process with Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) resolving to submit the list of all 27 prospective commissioners and BAZ members to Robert Mugabe to pick the final 18.

The process was abandoned after Zanu-PF officials led by Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana allegedly realised that the whole process was fraudulent. It also emerged that the MDC formations’ numerical advantage on the panel of interviewers impacted negatively on those perceived to be linked to Zanu-PF.

Zanu-PF cried foul because its team was awarding score marks on merit, while those from the other side ensured that candidates perceived to be Zanu-PF sympathisers were awarded zero points, while those perceived to be anti-Zanu-PF were scoring all the points.

Impeccable sources last night said when Zanu-PF realised the irregularity perpetrated by the team of human resources experts whose identity, status and sources was still shrouded in secrecy, objected to the whole process, arguing that it was fraudulent.

"Zanu-PF objected to the process arguing that it was based on partisan grounds and the results were unacceptable, culminating in the deadlock," said one of the sources.

This saw the parties to the process agreeing that all the names of the 27 candidates interviewed be forwarded to the President without ranking them.

Speaker of the House of Assembly Mr Lovemore Moyo told The Herald soon after the interviews that 12 would represent the ZMC and the remainder the BAZ.

Twenty-seven out of 28 candidates turned up for yesterday’s interviews, which were conducted by a panel comprising SROC members Senator Obert Gutu, President of the Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe Chief Fortune Charumbira (representing chiefs’ council), Mr Edward Mkhosi, Ms Tabitha Khumalo and Mabel Chinomona.

Senior Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Division Chief of Strategic Planning, Foreign Investment Promotion and former broadcaster Millicent Mombeshora, Media and Information Commission chief executive Tafataona Mahoso and outgoing Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president Matthew Takaona were among the interviewees.

Others included former Zimbabwe ambassador to China Christopher Mutsvangwa, former legislator and publisher Mr Kindness Paradza, former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings chief executive Mr Henry Muradzikwa, former Herald Assistant Editor Ropafadzo Mapimhidze, university lecturer and former ZBH chief executive Dr Rino Zhuwarara, lawyer and journalist Chris Mhike, University of Zimbabwe English lecturer Dr Vimbai Chivaura, the national director of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, Reverend Useni Sibanda, and veteran journalist Tichaona Zinhumwe.

Marketing and sales professional Freddy Samupindi, NUST Journalism and Media Studies lecturer Ms Nqobile Nyathi, Text Pertise managing director Mr Roger Stringer, head of the Zimbabwe Open University’s Media Studies Programme Mr Clemence Mabaso and local publisher Mr Benson Ntini completed the cast of prospective appointees.

The only absentee was Elizabeth Karonga who is out of the country.

Each candidate was given 15 minutes to respond to six questions, which were crafted around the significance of the national anthem, national language promotion strategies, the relationship between the ZMC and civil society as well as the best practices, ethics and measures the candidates would espouse in order to make the commission effective.

Responding to the question on national language promotion, most interviewees advocated the establishment of community media in different parts of the country.

Said Dr Mahoso: "If appointed to the commission, I would use the experience I have acquired in different duties while in America and locally.

"We managed to put together the Media and Information Commission from scratch when we only had a desk, terms of reference and an Act."

Mhike pledged to ensure the commission operated within the provisions of the Constitution and also actively engages key stakeholders such as the media, public and media training institutions.

Mutsvangwa said he would ensure the commission became effective by synchronising local and international values. He also said it was important for the ZMC to interact with civil society.

"However, the definition of this sector should be clearly spelt out and should be driven by local views. These views could be opposing ones. It doesn’t matter as long as this is coming from truly indigenous organisations," he said.

"The commission also needs Government and public funding without which it may fall foul of any other financiers." The ZMC is one of the four commissions that are being set up in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Act (Number 19).

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission are the remaining constitutional bodies.

Provisions of the law, state that the ZMC should comprise a chairperson and eight other members appointed by the President from a list of 12 or more nominees drawn by the SROC.

The appointees must be chosen for their knowledge and experience in the media. Among the Commission’s functions will be to uphold and develop Press freedom and ensure Zimbabweans have equitable and wide access to information.

It will also promote good media practices. Section 100Q of the Act empowers the Commission to investigate any conduct that appears to threaten Press freedom as well as the conduct of the media.

It will look into the disciplinary action that will have been taken against journalists and other media personnel found to have breached any law or code of conduct applicable to them. The Herald