By Alex Bell
31 March 2011
Another new newspaper has been revealed in Zimbabwe, making a surprise arrival on the streets on Thursday.
Dummy copies of the paper titled ‘The Mail’ were handed out free to the public on Thursday, ahead of the paper’s official launch, set for some time next week.
The paper, carrying a headline story that says: “Restrictions on rallies biased,” appears to be a far cry from the state-sympathetic Herald. SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa explained that the story appears critical of the offensive against the MDC, whose public rallies have been actively banned by the police.
“So far it would appear that the paper is apolitical, but we don’t know yet what kind of balance the paper will have,” Muchemwa explained.
He continued that this scepticism is widespread, amid rumours that the paper has been financed by the ZANU PF led Youth and Empowerment Ministry. It is understood that the paper is being edited by Barnabus Thondhlana, who was previously at the recently relaunched Daily News, and before that, he was said to be working for NewsDay.
“There is a lot of talk on the ground about who is running it and whether it is actually ZANU PF behind this. For now though, it does seem that the competition for newspapers is slowly increasing,” Muchemwa said.
The Mail, set to be a daily newspaper from some time next week, joins The Daily News, NewsDay, and the state-friendly Herald and The Chronicle as the fifth daily paper in Zimbabwe.
But there is still no sign of any independent radio stations being licensed to broadcast in the country, despite the majority of the population being unable to afford the comparatively expensive newspapers. The unity government, under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), vowed to reform the media, including the freeing of the airwaves. But more than two years later, there is still no sign of independent broadcasts being allowed in Zimbabwe.