"The meeting has been cancelled indefinitely after the President failed to turn up," said one editor who went to the state house for the meeting. The editor who requested anonymity said all editors in the country arrived in time before the scheduled 9a.m but were later informed the meeting had been cancelled.
Mugabe had called for a meeting with all editors from private and state media, the first such a meeting, where he was expected to talk about the progress of the Global Political Agreement signed by the three political leaders in the unity government on September 15 last year. The implementation of the GPA has been slow due to disagreements between Mugabe’s Zanu PF and the two Movement for Democratic Change parties headed by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara.
Mugabe accuses MDC of failing to convince the West to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe while MDC blames Mugabe for violating the GPA by making unilateral appointments of the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana among others.
Mugabe has in the past closed private papers critical of his policies over the last decade through the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). He has also used AIPPA and other legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) to harass, torture and imprison journalists.
The popular Daily News paper was shut down while a foreign correspondent for the Mail and Guardian Andrew Meldrum was deported together with other correspondents for foreign news agencies in the country.
Despite the inclusive government’s promises to open up the media space in the country only the state media has been allowed to publish more titles under their stables. Zimpapers, was allowed to launch two tabloids in Harare and Bulawayo, namely the H-Metro and The Chronicle Edition.
Two newspapers in the private media have shown interest of publishing, which are the News Day owned by Trevor Ncube and the Daily Evening gazette in the Financial Gazette stable but they are yet to be issued with licenses. The Daily News have advertised that it will be coming back and is recruiting staff.
Government said licenses will be issued by the Zimbabwe Media Commission, which is still to be appointed as names, selected by a Parliamentary select group during interviews over a month ago, were sent to President Mugabe for approval.
The European Union delegation in the country over the last weekend as well as other Western countries have urged the government to guarantee basic freedoms including opening the media space before they support the new inclusive government financially. The Government is broke and is currently failing to pay adequate salaries to its civil servants.