Zimbabwe: SA Broadcasting Firm Acquitted

Regulation & Policy

Globecast Africa, a South African broadcasting company that was being accused of circumventing the Broadcasting Services Act by operating in Zimbabwe without a licence, was on Monday cleared of the charges.

The firm, which was represented by Thabani Mpofu, had been accused of interviewing the Minister of Information and Publicity, Cde Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, in March and transmitting the interview to CNN in the United States without seeking authority from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.

Globecast denied the charges when the trial opened, saying the staff and the broadcasting equipment were brought into Zimbabwe by the Government's Transmedia Corporation, which failed to pay for the licence to cover the March 29 elections as agreed.

Florence Ziyambi of the Attorney-General's Office represented the State while Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa appeared for Globecast. Harare magistrate Mr Archie Wochiunga acquitted Globecast, saying the State had failed to prove a case against the firm.

Wochiunga ruled that there was no reason for the company to be prosecuted considering the fact that in the trial, the State failed to challenge the agreement between Globecast and Transmedia. Transmedia, as per agreement, was responsible for the procurement of a licence for Globecast and there was no reason for charging the company. Transmedia is the one that had been authorised to bring Globecast into Zimbabwe and there is no reason why Globecast should be charged.

They entered into a contract which is clear and no evidence has been adduced to prove that Globecast intentionally committed the said offence”.

"The essential elements of the offence have not been proved and, therefore, the accused is found not guilty and acquitted at the close of the State's case," ruled Wochiunga. It was the State's case that on March 28 this year, Globecast brought its two engineers, Moses Maseko and Abdulla Gaibee, an outside broadcasting van and other satellite uplink equipment into Zimbabwe. Transmedia had hired them for the coverage of the harmonised elections between March 28 and 29. The State alleged that Globecast did not seek authority from BAZ and broadcast Ndlovu's interview on CNN.