SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Two New Media Houses Launched in One Week

Two new media houses, a radio station and a newspaper, were this week launched amid speculation as to who is the owner of the daily paper.

The first edition of the Zimbabwe Mail came out on Monday while Radio Chiedza, owned by the Roman Catholic Church, was launched in Harare on Wednesday.

According to reports Radio Chiedza will broadcast community-based stories for greater Harare.

Radio Chiedza becomes another of the many community radio stations that are waiting licensing from the ZANU PF government. In October the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe called for applications for 25 commercial radio stations, based in some of Zimbabwe's smaller towns, but no applications have been called for in Harare and one have been called for, for community radio stations.

On Thursday a Voice of America Studio 7 report quoted Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Harare, Reverend Robert Ndlovu, blaming the government's obsession with media control for lack of diversity in the media.

The Zimbabwe Mail becomes the second daily paper to be launched this year after Alpha Media Holdings launched its Bulawayo based regional daily, the Southern Eye.

Zim Mail editor Constantine Chimakure told SW Radio Africa that his paper plans to 'promote the country' and 'celebrate the richness and the uniqueness of Zimbabwe' and to 'advance the nation'. Chimakure added that the people of Zimbabwe were now 'fatigued by politics and there is a need to take the nation forward'.

A fortnight ago deputy information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira urged journalists against 'spewing propaganda and politics'. Mandiwanzira warned media players that they would soon be out of business if they persist with criticising President Mugabe and ZANU PF because it has become 'unprofitable to do so'.

This was after his boss Jonathan Moyo had embarked on a tour of media houses with a charm offensive, urging cordial relations with his known adversaries.

Quizzed on the ownership of the Zimbabwe Mail, Chimakure said he was not at liberty to 'throw names' and said the owners would be announced at the official launch in a month's time.

But reliable sources told SW Radio Africa that both transport minister Obert Mpofu and chairperson of the Mbada Diamonds, Robert Mhlanga, are behind the project.

The two are amongst some of Zimbabwe's richest people and their friendship is known to have grown stronger during the erstwhile inclusive government during which Mpofu was minister of mines.

About two years ago Mpofu, who calls himself Mugabe's 'obedient son', bought the then technically insolvent Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group. Mpofu studied journalism at the University of New Delhi in India in the 1970s and had a brief stint as a reporter in Zambia, before returning to Zimbabwe where he became a civil servant. He was to controversially rise to become a businessman and politician.

Ndlovu is Mugabe's former pilot and according to a June Mail and Guardian report is also rumored to be one of the veteran leader's 'business agents'. In 2012 the same paper reported that Mhlanga was on a R185-million property-buying spree, acquiring prime real estate on the Durban north coast and in Sandton in Johannesburg, allegedly for Mugabe.

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