Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's formation of the former Movement for Democratic Change on Thursday condemned the engagement of former Media and Information Commission Chairman Tafataona Mahoso as chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Media Commission constituted to reform the sector.
The MDC issued a strongly-worded statement saying Mahoso should have no role in reform of the media as during his tenure at the MIC he presided over the closure of newspapers and radio stations that were critical of the government of President Robert Mugabe. Most notably, his commission shuttered the independent Daily News in 2003.
The MDC said the former enemies of a free press could not become the ambassadors of media reform. It said engaging Mahoso was like employing an undertaker as a nurse in a hospital.
"We feel strongly as a party that Mahoso has no place in a reform agenda. His tenure as the chairperson of the now defunct Media and Information Commission is littered with graves of independent newspapers and radio stations," the MDC statement said. "His legacy as a proponent of a shackled media industry speaks for itself.
"Zimbabweans urgently deserve media reform in fulfillment of the provisions of the Global Political Agreement and the national aspiration to democratize our national space. In this new era of reform, there cannot be any room for decorated media hangmen such as Mahoso," the party said. "Engaging Mahoso in saving our media is like employing an undertaker as a nurse in a hospital," the MDC statement declared.
Tsvangirai MDC Deputy Spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo said the party will raise its objections to the engagement of Mahoso with its two partners in the national unity government, particularly Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
Press rights defender Beatrice Mtetwa said she was shocked by Mahoso’s return and that progressive members of the commission should resign if ZANU-PF insists that he serve as the panel's chief administrator.