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Media Reform in Zimbabwe Stymied as Many ZANU-PF Loyalists Named

Zimbabwean Information Minister Webster Shamu came under fire from media organizations on Friday for naming members of six state media boards without consulting the full unity government, Parliament or others with an interest in the communications sector.

Criticism was particularly sharp over Shamu's appointment of Tafataona Mahoso, the former chairman of the now-defunct Media and Information Commission, to head the Broadcasting Authority. Some media advocates refer to Mahoso as a “media hangman” for his role in closing the Daily News in 2003 and otherwise suppressing independent media.

Shamu has also named nine former senior military officials to the six boards, which observers say is intended to signal President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF remains in charge.

The Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the appointments jeopardized the power-sharing government, while militarization of institutions including the state press holding company ZimPapers sent the wrong signal to the world.

Tsvangirai MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the appointments showed disregard by ZANU-PF for its MDC partners in the unity government formed in February ending a months-long post-election stalemate.

Media Alliance of Zimbabwe Executive Director John Gambanga said Shamu’s unilateral decision indicated that worse things are in store for the media.

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