Though media liberalization in Zimbabwe has proven slower than many hoped, the former ruling ZANU-PF party has launched two new publications aimed at rural voters in an apparent bid to counter the influence of newsletters put out by the Movement for Democratic Change of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Sources said ZANU-PF's new titles bear a resemblance to the MDC publications, Changing Times and The Prime Minister’s Newsletter. ZANU-PF’s Zimbabwe Today and The Insider are being distributed at no cost in the country’s rural areas, which were hotly contested to say the least in 2008 national elections.
Sources said the party will relaunch two publications discontinued a few years ago, The Voice and the Zimbabwe Times, for distribution in cities.
Issue number one of The Insider led with a story saying the MDC was paying lip-service to fighting corruption. Zimbabwe Today featured a long article by ex-Media and Information Commission Chairman Tafataona Mahoso denouncing the West for imposing sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle.
Media consultant and analyst Takura Zhangazha told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that ZANU-PF is desperate to win back rural voters in particular - but said its new offerings are unlikely to achieve this.
VOA could not reach ZANU-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo for comment on the media expansion.