The much-awaited launch
of a self-regulatory Media Complaints Council by Zimbabwean journalists has
been deferred by a month following government pressure on the Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists (ZUJ), writes Torby Muturikwa.

However, ZUJ denies that it was pressured
by the government but rather says participants wanted the code of conduct and constitution
thoroughly addressed before adoption.

ZUJ were
supposed to launch the council in Harare
recently after many years of discussion.

Zimbabwe currently has a government-appointed commission, the Media and
Information Commission (MIC), that licences media houses and journalists.

ZUJ secretary general Foster Dongozi said: "We know
the government wants us to postpone launching the council but we are not
prepared to do that. They just want to buy time.

"We have been
given 30 days to sort the outstanding issues. A convention will be held at the
end of February where we will adopt these and launch the Media Council," he

However, President's
Robert Mugabe nephew Leo Mugabe, who chairs the Transport and Communications
Parliamentary Committee warned journalists against setting up their Media

He said his
committee supported
a voluntary media council, “but it should
be within the confines of the law, so that you do not have a structure that
runs parallel to the Media and Information Commission."

"What we should work on are amendments to AIPPA (Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act) so that this animal you want to create can be
accommodated therein," he said.

The African Commision on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) has been told by Harare authorities that AIPPA
will be repealed but nothing has been done to date.
Meanwhile, a Harare
High Court has ordered The Herald political editor Caesar Zvayi to pay for damages
after attacking a young female journalist in the paper’s newsroom last

High Court Judge
Justice Lavender Makoni ruled awarded the victim $30 000.