Home » General » Radio Licensing Condemned As a ‘Charade’

MEDIA stakeholders have condemned the issuing of new broadcasting licences to elites and entities linked to Zanu PF saying the move reaveled the government’s brazen bias.

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), led by Zanu PF apologist Tafataona Mahoso, on Tuesday granted ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira’s AB Communications the right to set up more broadcasting stations in Gweru and Masvingo.

Mandiwanzira already owns ZiFM Sterio, a national commercial radio station that was licenced 2011 together with ZimPapers’ StarFM.

ZimPapers has also been blessed with the right to spread its broadcasting empire to Mutare.

The other players that were also granted licences are thought to be fronts for Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

But while welcoming this as a significant move towards freeing the airwaves, private players with broadcasting interest in Zimbabwe, slammed the apparent bias displayed by BAZ.

John Masuku, executive director of Radio Voice of the People (RadioVOP), said the licencing of new players this week did not come anywhere close to liberalising the airwaves as was wished by many.

The veteran broadcaster feels BAZ should instead have licenced Alpha Media Holdings, owners of the Newsday, who have already lost a total $20 000 in non- refundable application fees for Bulawayo and Harare.

“I see this as a lost opportunity by BAZ to prove it has no inherent biases against private players,” he said.

He further condemned the regulatory authority for issuing stationery company, Kingstones a radio licence to operate in Harare, when it was now apparent their businesses were struggling.

RadioVop is one of the stations that have been denied the right to broadcast freely.

Tafara-Mabvuku MP James Maridadi also slammed what he described as “taking one step forward and three steps backwards”.

“What makes me worried is that we have a former deputy minister (Mandiwanzira) who got a licence for a national radio and now being a full minister, he gets two additional radio licences,” said the MDC-T legislator.

Media Institute of Southern Africa-Zimbabwe chapter director Nhlanhla Ngwenya welcomed the licencing of new broadcasters but was quick to condemn the biases alleged.

“Clearly the manner in which it was done exposes everything as a charade meant to hoodwink the world into believing that they are democratising the broadcasting sector when they are actually expanding plurality of the same.”

Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras) programme officer Kudzayi kwangwari also expressed similar concerns.

“Of course the government is moving towards the right direction in order to have a three tier broadcasting system,” Kwangwari said.

“However, we also want to express our disappointment with the fact that there is no diversity and pluralism since many of those that are have been licenced are linked to the state either as parastatals or as individuals.

Kwangwari also demanded the publication of the template used by BAZ to come up with the successful applicants.

Source : New Zimbabwe