The appointment of President Robert Mugabe’s daughter, Bona Chikore, to the Censorship Board has stoked debate on nepotism and patronage networks, but not much has been said on why the government continues to keep this board, an undoubted colonial relic.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
The Censorship Board’s mandate in the colonial era was to control and censor what people were reading, watching or listening to, as there was a fear that the media was too liberal and would “poison” the minds of the population.
Then, the board’s creation was to stifle a free media and artistic expression and it is quite mind-boggling why a post-independence government wants to hold on to this body, by all intents and purposes, a dinosaur.
It is also strange that a government that often preaches against neo-colonialism and the fight against imperialism continues to hold onto the worst souvenirs of the Rhodesian government and deploys them against the citizens 37 years after independence.
What the government ought to have done is quietly scrap this body instead of making such high-profile appointments to a board that is way past its sell-by date.
The only plausible explanation that can be offered is that whoever appointed Bona wanted to prove his loyalty to Mugabe and the First Family, a clear sign of nepotism and patronage.
While whoever appointed Bona to the board may have thought they are pleasing her father, surely Mugabe should be embarrassed that his daughter is now associated with a body that should have ceased to exist the day Zimbabwe attained its independence.
What Mugabe and his government should be doing, instead, is promoting freedom of speech and artistic expression, rather than resuscitating a body that is against democratic principles.
To further show that the board belongs to the past, when it was first set up, its job was just looking at print and electronic media, but now media encompasses so many other things like social media, news websites and other audio-visual tools and one wonders what the Censorship Board’s role in monitoring all these platforms is.
The board is infamous for censoring the media, banning books and films that are to be distributed in the country and it is strange that in the Digital Age someone or some people think that they can prescribe what people should watch or read.
It is a redundant body, set up on colonial mentality and a waste of money, which has no justification in a country that claims to be democratic.