By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Zimbabwean Minister of Information and Publicity Dr Tichaona Jokonya last Friday officially opened the offices of the weekly Namzim newspaper, The Southern Times. The paper, which is a joint project of Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) limited and New Era Publications Corporation, was launched in August 2004. All along, Southern Times staff members were housed in the New Era building. During the official opening witnessed by diplomats and other captains of different industries, Jokonya urged those involved in this project to ensure that the newspaper serves as a medium through which SADC citizens can express their views and aspirations for better lives and improved standards of living. According to Dr Jokonya, a lot of things have been happening in the region but little has been told. “This regional project is just not a bid, we are moving forward,” he indicated. Since its birth, the newspaper has gone through a reform process and part of that reform is the change from a broadsheet to a tabloid. Though the Southern Times has been faced with hurdles, mainly financial constraints, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah was confident that this project would soon achieve its main purpose of feeding the people of the region with information relevant to the further development of Southern Africa and Africa at large. This was supported by Chairman of the New Era Board, who also chairs the Southern Times board, Wilbard Usiku when he stated, “I am convinced that the paper has potential provided that concerted efforts are made to confront the challenges faced today.” Minister Ndaitwah lamented that African stories told especially by the foreign media are those that tarnish the continent’s image, and time has come for Africa to tell her own stories. There is no doubt that there are many positive developments that are occurring across the SADC region. It is, therefore, a challenge for Southern Times in particular to ensure that the reports and images about the region and continent are balanced, she stressed. “I hope that New Era and Zimpapers will continue nursing their baby; (Southern Times), this is an investment”, she stated. The Zimbabwean minister who was accompanied by his Permanent Secretary George Charamba and other officials held talks with Minister Ndaitwah in efforts to find a solution to support this regional paper to continue playing its role in the world of information society. In February 2004, ministers of information of Zimbabwe and Namibia signed the Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to engage in broadcasting ventures and collaboration between Zimpapers and New Era Publications Corporation. Just recently, a delegation from Zimbabwe was in the country for a meeting to discuss the two countries’ bilateral agreement on information and media. The meeting also explored possible ties between the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH). So far, the Southern Times newspaper is the only project that has come out of the agreement.
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