The launch of a long-planned self-regulatory Media Council of Zimbabwe was put off again this week as reports emerged of government resistance to the project.
Council organizers said the launch was put off in order to address organizational issues. But the Web-based news service ZimOnline said the launch was postponed under pressure from Presidential spokesman George Charamba on the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists not to participate in the Media Council. ZimOnline quoted a journalists union official as saying this was not the case, though.
In January the council also failed to launch on schedule for what its founders said were problems with the organization’s constitution.
The council, promoted by the Media Alliance comprising the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, the Media Monitoring Project and the Media Institute of Southern Africa, would set a code of journalistic ethics with a disciplinary panel to back it up.
It would operate parallel to the official Media and Information Commission, which has been responsible for the closure of a number of media outlets.
ZUJ President Matthew Takaona acknowledged in an interview with reporter Chris Gande of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that one of the reasons for the latest delay was that journalists working for state media are hesitant to join the organization.