Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Friday appointed prominent journalist Rogerio Sitoe as chairperson of the Higher Mass Media Council (CSCS), a watchdog body established under the Constitution, which has the task of ensuring the independence of the mass media, in exercising the right to information, the freedom of the press, the right of reply, and the allocation of broadcasting time to political parties.
Sitoe built his career largely on the Maputo daily "Noticias". He rose to become editorial director of the paper, but was abruptly removed from this position in 2013, without any official explanation. At the time it was widely believed that he was sacked because he had gone personally to the main base of the rebel movement Renamo, at Satunjira, in the central province of Sofala, to cover a press conference given by the late Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
But Sitoe soon returned - this time as a member of the Board of Directors of the company Noticias SARL, which owns "Noticias" and its sister publications, the Sunday paper "Domingo", and the sports weekly "Desafio". Technically the company is privately owned - in reality public bodies have a dominant shareholding position.
Nyusi also appointed Paulina Chiziane, one of the country's foremost novelists, as a member of the CNCS. She was the first woman to publish a novel in Mozambique.
This completes the composition of the 11 member CNCS. Three members were elected by journalists - Eliseu Bento, of Sociedade de Noticias; Suzana Espada of the public Mozambican televisin station, TVM, and Alexandre Chiure, who was backed by the Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body, MISA (Media Institute of Southern Africa). The National Journalists' Union (SNJ) supported Bento and Espada.
The member appointed by the Association of Media Companies is Jeremias Langa, a senior figure in the management of the independent company Soico, which owns the television station STV, and the daily paper "O Pais".
A judge sits on the CNCS, appointed by the Higher Council of the Judicial Magistracy. He is Jose Macaringue, the first deputy chairperson of the Mozambican Association of Judges (AMJ).
The final four members were chosen by the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic - since these appointments are made in accordance with the distribution of parliamentary seats, three of the CSCS members were appointed by the ruling Frelimo Party, and one by Renamo.
The Frelimo appointees are Jose Guerra (chairperson of the Miramar media group, which is owned by the Brazilian cult, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), Jorge Matine (former editorial director of "Domingo") and Carmen de Lizi dos Santos, (who was also on the previous CSCS, and has a background in administrative law).
Renamo's appointee is Joao de Brito Munguambe.
Among other duties, the CSCS should issue opinions prior to the licensing by the government of private radio and television stations. It should also be consulted over the appointment and dismissal of the general directors of the publicly owned media.