HARARE, (Reuters) – Zimbabwean authorities yesterday issued an operating licence to a local newspaper group forced to close down by the state five years ago, a move which suggests the new unity government intends to open up the media.
A special committee set up by the Information Ministry nearly two years ago said the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) was free to resume operations.
A unity government formed by President Robert Mugabe and his arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai in February to try to ease a severe economic crisis has been under pressure to implement political and media reforms to win critical foreign assistance.
The government is setting up a new Zimbabwe Media Commission to spearhead the reforms, including easing restrictive registration and accreditation requirements for media.
In a letter to the ANZ directors, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters, the committee which was considering the application said the newspaper group was free to operate again.
There was no immediate comment on Thursday from the ANZ. The ANZ group used to publish a private daily newspaper and a weekly on Sunday, sharply critical of Mugabe’s rule, and in competition with a government-controlled newspaper group.