Zhuwao Says ZBC Shouldn't Allow Criticism Of Indigenisation

Harare – President Robert Mugabe’s nephew has complained that Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster is behaving as if it is “a mouthpiece of an opposition entity” by allowing people to voice their criticism of the controversial indigenisation policy on air, it was reported on Sunday.

The privately-owned Standard newspaper quoted a letter from Indigenisation Minister Patrick Zhuwao after it aired views on Thursday of analysts who were critical of the policy, which demands that foreign and white business owners make sure 51% of their shares are in the hands of black Zimbabweans. 

ZBC is “duty bound to support the position taken by Mugabe with the full support of cabinet,” Zhuwao was quoted as saying in comments that have reignited debate over the impartiality – or lack of it – of state media in Zimbabwe.

The Standard said the minister had confirmed writing the letter.

Though Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution says that state-owned media should be impartial, ZBC and state-controlled newspapers including the Herald and the Sunday Mail are generally seen to be loyal to Mugabe and whichever faction of his ruling party their editors are closest to.

Mugabe’s black empowerment policy is at the heart of a bitter battle within Cabinet, with some older ministers like Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa favouring a gentler, more investor-friendly approach to its implementation. 

However the indigenisation minister is threatening to cancel the licences of all firms that hadn’t by Friday handed in documents outlining how they plan to transfer their majority shareholding.

Zhuwao also hit out at Chinamasa in a separate statement on Saturday, criticising him for alleging that foreign-owned banks had satisfactorily complied with the April 1 deadline.

In the statement, which was quoted by NewZimbabwe.com, Zhuwao suggested the finance minister had put at risk “the savings and investments of depositors and shareholders” in the banks in what appeared to be a threat to the banks’ operating licences.