Charamba Threatens News Day Editor

Harare,- The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, George Charamba, has told Newsday editor, Barnabas Thondlana, that if he puts his paper on the streets of Zimbabwe without a licence he will get him arrested.

Charamba, is also Robert Mugabe’s personal body guard.

Newsday is the new daily newspaper from the Zimbabwe Independent Group stable which has still to be given an operating licence by government.

It is owned by mogul, Trevor Ncube who is based in South Africa.

"I will pick you up," Charamba said to  a stunned Thondlana in Harare. "If your paper goes on the streets of Harare without a license I will send my boys to get you in your office."

Charamba was addressing more than 30 newspaper editors from Zimbabwe’s diverse media in Harare.
He also told Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) Executive Director, John Gambanga that his organisation should  "abolish itself  to again find itself as a genuine effort".

"The VMC will never come right until and unless it abolishes itself, to again found itself as a genuine media effort," he said.

Charamba, who was in a no nonsense mood told editors that there was no way his ministry would allow newspapers to spring up in Zimbabwe.He said the new H-Metro tabloid had been issued an operating licence by the old Media and Information Council of Dr Tafataona Mahoso.

"It has a licence," he said when asked by former Standard editor Bornwell Chakaodza why he allowed the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group to publish and yet it had not been given a licence for the tabloid.

"It has a licence," he said.

He was quickly supported by Editor-in-Chief on Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited, Pikirai Deketeke, who said : "We have a licence. In fact we have many licences and some of our products are just lying dormant."

Charamba warned editors not to become politicians but to remain purely "journalists".

Meanwhile proprietors of The Zimbabwean have defied the country’s laws to publish yet another newspaper – Futball Zimbabwe which hit the streets Wednesday.

This is third newspapers to be published by the United Kingdom publishing house. The company also publishes the The Zimbabwean, Zimbabwean on Sunday and Zimbabwean on Monday.

It is understood that the papers, edited by former Community Newspapers Group of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Wilf Mbanga are mooting plans to launch a daily newspaper.

The company’s newspapers are printed in the United Kingdom before they flown for distribution in the country. However the company’s Harare  and Bulawayo based reporters file their copy at an undisclosed offices in those cities.

The media house’s latest newspaper is a football newspaper – the first such product in the country.

The monitoring body of Zimbabwe’s power sharing pact has called on President Robert Mugabe to expedite the appointment of a Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) to regulate the publishing industry.
The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) also called on Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara – as signatories to the September 15, 2008, power sharing agreement – to speed up the formation of a National Economic Council.

Zimbabwe’s parliament submitted 12 names to Mugabe for the ZMC, which he is expected to whittle down to eight and appoint a chairman, but Mugabe has made no further announcements. MDC leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the announcement of the ZMC Board will be announced soon but said the appointment of recent media boards were irregular.

The government appointed Mahoso to chair the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) that will issue new TV and Radio licenses.

The delay in setting up the ZMC has stalled at least three privately-owned daily newspapers which await licensing by the media regulating body to operate. These include The Daily News which was banned in 2004, and the NewsDay which has targeted an early November launch. A third newspaper, the Daily Evening Gazette, is also waiting to enter the market.

In a statement on Monday, Jomic also said it was concerned by the reappearance of “abusive language” in both the state-controlled and the privately-owned media.

Meanwhile, The Zimbabwe Mail executive Chairman Brighton Musonza has revealed plans to set up a daily newspaper in Zimbabwe.

"We have identified a consortium of dedicated Zimbabwean investors who are willing to make a contribution in the rebuilding of the Zimbabwean economy," he said.

Brighton Musonza is the founder of online news websites, The Zimbabwe Mail and The Zimbabwe Times which is owned by veteran journalist Geoffrey Nyarota.