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Critics See Political Horse-Trading in Zimbabwe Media Commission Short List

More controversy has arisen in the process of selection the nine members the new Zimbabwe Media Commission following news that former Ambassador to China Chris Mutsvangwa, a top ZANU-PF official, has been included in an updated short list of candidates.

Also appearing on the official short list sent to President Robert Mugabe is Lawton Hikwa, dean of communications at the National University of Science and technology.

Mr. Mugabe's former ruling ZANU-PF party raised objections to the initial list, saying it was tilted in favor of the Movement for Democratic Change, in majority in parliament.

Neither Mutsvangwa nor Hikwa were in a short-list circulated in the media in the immediate aftermath of public interviews and a closed-door meeting of Parliament's standing committee on rules and orders which made selections with the help of consultants.

Media reports said Mutsvangwa was ranked 19 among 27 candidates interviewed.

The name of publisher Roger Stringer, long associated with the University of Zimbabwe, fell off the list though he ranked among the top 10 in the scoring process.

In another change, Godfrey Chada, the former executive director of the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust, has replaced journalist Vambe Jirira.

Broadcast journalist Douglas Dhliwayo was also cut from the list of names from which the president will select nine commissioners. Information Minister Webster Shamu will select the three members of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe from the same list.

Media reports quoted House Speaker Lovemore Moyo as saying the names first circulated in the news media did not represent the panel's final selections for the short list.

But Advocacy Officer Tabani Moyo of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern told VOA reporter Patience Rusere that the final list was the result of horse trading by political parties in response to ZANU-PF objections and does not fully reflect merit.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...