Monday, July 22, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Charamba blasts US envoy over ZBC
07/07/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s spokesman has accused US ambassador, Bruce Wharton, of behaving as if he was "an MDC councillor in Harare" after the envoy expressed concern over partisan political coverage by the ZBC.

Wharton wrote to the ZBC to express his concern after it emerged that the corporation demanded US$165,000 from the MDC-T to cover party leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s election campaign launch in Marondera on Sunday.

The MDC-T said it refused to pay the cash with Tsvangirai telling supports at the rally: “We (have been) shut out of the public media which has taken a position to cover live in the electronic media, the campaign of President Mugabe and Zanu PF.”

ZBC covered live President Robert Mugabe’s own campaign launch in Harare on Friday. It was not clear whether Zanu PF paid for the coverage.

“In that context, I wish to express concern about lack of access by political parties to ZBC, a situation which appears to run counter to these guidelines.

“This letter is an expression of my desire to support a credible electoral process in Zimbabwe and be clear about the elements I believe are important in that process. I will not distribute or share this letter with media, political parties, or civil society organisation.”

But the letter drew the ire of information secretary, George Charamba, who said the envoy’s conduct was unheard of.

“It’s unheard of for an ambassador, especially from a perceived super power like America to write to an executive of a parastatal,” Charamba told the herald.

“He (Wharton) can’t even write to the President and there he is writing to the executive of a parastatal jumping foreign affairs, which is his country’s contact point.

“He skips the ministry of Media, Information and Publicity which is responsible for the media and leaps past the ZBC board which is the governing authority at the parastatal and lands on the desk of Muchechetere. Ooh, how the mighty have fallen!

“I am very happy that the ambassador is aware of the GPA and its various demands. I hope he can now tell his government that in this very important document called the GPA, there is some reference to pirate radio stations which must stop invading our airwaves. One of these pirate radio stations is Studio 7, which is funded by the Americans.”

Zanu PF strategist and former information minister Jonathan Moyo added: “How can the ambassador of a country that is funding Studio 7 try to lecture to us how ZBC should conduct its business?

“His hands are dirty, his mouth is dirty and he must be advised to shut up because that pirate radio station, Studio 7 is not only violating Zimbabwean laws, the GPA and Sadc guidelines but also international law.

“Nobody needs a lecture from this outpost of tyranny called America. They call ZBC, ‘dead BC’ so is the ambassador seeking to go to the grave with ZBC? Our elections will be free and fair if America and its friends including a neighbouring country leave us alone.”

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