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Zimbabwe Prime Minister Endorses Regional Report Critical of State Broadcasters

Mr. Tsvangirai as the leader for a decade of the former opposition party attested to the negative impact of politically slanted broadcasting

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has endorsed a regional report on broadcasting to highlight the lack of progress since February under his power-sharing government in reforming the state-run broadcasting monopoly to reflect a broader spectrum of political views.

Mr. Tsvangirai endorsed the report published by the South African-based Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa before departing late this week for talks in Libya with African Union President Muammar Gaddaffi.

The report urged the repeal of Zimbabwean legislation repressing freedom of the media.

As leader of the former opposition, Mr Tsvangirai said state media has tarnished the image of those perceived to be enemies of the dominant ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe rather than focusing on the issues and problems that are most of concern to the Zimbabwean people.

He called for editorial independence in the newsrooms of the state-operated Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, and self-regulation by the media as a general principle.

"I look forward to the day when the coverage of events attended by political leaders is decided upon by editors who have only one consideration - what in the best interest of their reading and viewing public," the prime minister said.

Mr Tsvangirai said he and President Mugabe were soon to name the new Zimbabwe Media Commission as the caretaker of a free national media environment.

Mr. Tsvangirai said that although progress towards the full implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement has not been as rapid "or as comprehensive as the majority of us would like, there has nonetheless been noticeable progress".

For more on the regional broadcasting report, Sandra Nyaira spoke with Faith Zaba, a board member of the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe, who moderated this week’s launch of the critical document.