INFORMATION Minister Webster Shamu has ruled out making changes to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) demanded by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who claims the body was illegally constituted.
The BAZ recently riled Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party as well we media reform activists by awarding radio licences to companies claimed to be linked to President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai is also concerned with the lack of progress in licencing new television operators to break-up the dominance of the Zanu PF-leaning state broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).
The MDC-T leader says he wants the governing board of the BAZ reconstituted claiming it was illegally put together.
But Shamu insisted Wednesday that no changes would be made to the BAZ as well as the management of the ZBC.
“Some have questioned why we put former freedom fighters within the hierarchy of the (BAZ and ZBC) boards,” he said.
“This is a legally selected board which was constitutionally selected and until its term of office expires, it will remain in place.
“These are men who have been tried and tested, whose dedication to duty is unquestionable even under the toughest of conditions and we are proud to have them working with us.”
Tsvangirai claimed an agreement had been reached during a recent GPA principals’ meeting with Mugabe and MDC-M leader Arthur Mutambara giving Shamu a three-week deadline to implement the changes.
“At our Principals’ meeting, we restated our position and gave the Minister three weeks to comply with our directive to reconstitute the BAZ board, the ZBC board and the Mass Media Trust,” Tsvangirai told a recent meeting in Harare.
“We expect that to happen. Cabinet agreed to it, the Principals agreed and we expect the Minister to implement this position.”
But the MDC-T leader later admitted that Shamu had pretty much ignored him over the issue.
“The situation remains dire,” Tsvangirai recently conceded.
“Media reforms as agreed in the GPA have not been implemented and the responsible Minister and his officials are arrogantly ducking from implementing what we have agreed as Principals, as Cabinet and as political parties.
“They have instead gone further to ban foreign newspapers and to grant radio licences to companies aligned to a political party.”