The launch of the Midlands Chronicle edition follows another controversial launch of the H- Metro, a Harare based tabloid which was launched recently by Zimpapers.
The launch of both the Midlands Chronicle edition and the H- Metro have attracted sharp criticism from media organizations such as the Media Instituteof Southern Africa (MISA) which has accused the government, through the Ministry of Information, of granting operating licences to publications under the Zimpapers stable while denying other players.
“While as MISA we subscribe to the concept of media pluralism and diversity, we cannot continue to accept a situation where one media giant only is allowed to establish newspapers, disguising as editions while other players are being denied licenses,” said Loughty Dube, MISA-Zimbabwe chairperson.
Zimpapers argued that it used its old licence to launch the papers.
Meanwhile companies like the Associated Newspapers (ANZ) ZimInd Publishers and The Financial Gazette among others have been instructed by the Ministry of Information to wait for the establishment of The Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) for them to be permitted to publish their dailies.
The set up of the long awaited ZMC is currently surrounded by controversy as names of people selected by a parliament select group still has to be made official, well over a month after. Parliament said it sent the shortlisted candidates to President Robert Mugabe.
The Midlands edition, is said to be the brain child of Innocent Gore, The Chronicle’s newly appointed editor.
“Zimpapers has launched the Midlands edition of The Chronicle. The paper carries lead stories from the Midlands and surrounding areas while the main Chronicle remains a national paper. Since the launch of the paper sales have shot up in the Midlands and plans are already under way to beef up the Midlands Bureau with more resources and personnel so that the paper can sustain itself,” said a source at The Chronicle in Bulawayo.
The paper has however caused confusion in the Midlands as some readers mistake it with the main Chronicle.
“I bought the paper on Monday thinking that it was the usual Chronicle but I later realised that it was marked Midlands edition on top. While I applaud the idea of a Midlands daily edition, I think the main Chronicle should continue to circulate in the province because there are a lot of people here who come from Matabeleland and they also want to read stories from Matabeleland,” said Joshua Ndlovu. RadioVOP