September 17, 2004

Opposition to gain access to TV

>Government has ordered Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) to allocate airtime on radio and television to opposition political parties ahead of next year's general election. Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has confirmed that ZBH would soon start allocating political parties airtime to articulate their policies. "We are working on creating a conducive electoral framework in line with the SADC principles. This will include equal access to the public media by all political parties and programmes will be introduced on television and radio soon," Chinamasa said. This is part of government's efforts to reform the electoral system in the country in line with Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles ahead of the general election. However, opposition parties have dismissed the move, saying it is an attempt by the ruling party to hoodwink the world whilst the public media continues to campaign against them.
In the meantime, President Mugabe has appointed a committee to oversee voting boundaries for the general election in March 2005. He has appointed high court Judge George Chiweshe to head a commission to draw up constituency boundaries. Since Mr. Chiweshe's impartiality has long been questioned by legal analysts and human rights lawyers, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has criticised President Robert Mugabe's appointment. The opposition claimed that the commissioners, led by High Court judge George Chiweshe, have strong links to the ruling Zanu PF and alleged they would not be impartial. Another member of the commission, Job Wabhira, is a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence. The other two members of the commission are University of Zimbabwe lecturers. (Zimbabwe Independent, Harare / VOA News)

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