The Zimbabwean Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (CSRC) has begun advertising posts for the new media commission that
will licence newspapers, writes a correspondent.

Adverts announcing the vacancies are the first step towards constituting the long-awaited Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) which was created in January 2008.

Haggling between political rivals, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Zanu PF, has until now prevented the appointment of commissioners and the establishment of the body.

The longtime rivals formed a government of national unity on February 11, paving the way for the commencement of  targeted reforms spelt out in an agreement hammered out during talks that led to a new government.

According to the timeline, stakeholders are required to submit nominations to the CSRC which in turn will run open interviews in Parliament before Pesident Robert Mugabe decides on the chairman based on its recommendations.

The CSRC has targeted end of June for the completion of the process.

A total of 12 commissioners will make up the ZMC.

In terms of the constitution of Zimbabwe Mugabe will make these appointments.

The ZMC will be responsible for licensing journalists and media houses to practice in Zimbabwe as well as enforcing ethics in the media.  It shall also preside over what is referred to in the Access to Information of Privacy Act  (AIPPA) as ‘journalistic privilege’, breach of which is subject to criminal sanction.

Mugabe's old government has presided over the closure of four newspapers using the now defunct Media and Information Commission (MIC).

The country's largest circulating independent daily, The Daily News, was among the four papers that were shut down by the MIC for breaching AIPPA’s licensing and registration provisions.

Dozens of journalists were arrested while others left the country to pursue their careers elsewhere.