Zimbabwe: Shamu Claims Government Will Issue new TV and Radio Licences Soon

Investment

Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu has said the government is more than ready to start issuing licences for new television and radio stations. Shamu told Radio VOP over the weekend that his ministry was 'ready and raring to go' to register new players in the electronic media, and then he blamed Parliament for delaying the process.

'We don't know why parliament is taking time. They should send the names of the people to the President and once that is done we can start giving out licences. I am getting enquiries from many people who want to get licences everyday,' Shamu is quoted as saying. But Masvingo Urban MP, Tongai Matutu, chairman of the House Legal and Procedural Committee, told us that Shamu was barking up the wrong tree by blaming Parliament instead of Robert Mugabe.

'As an MP and Minister of Information, Shamu should be well aware that Parliament's Standing Rules and Orders Committee has sent a list of nominees to Mugabe for approval for both the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe,' Matutu said.

'Surely you can't tell me the Minister is unaware Mugabe has been sitting on the lists since they were submitted to him early this month. The truth of the matter is that there is no sincerity from our colleagues in ZANU PF to open up the airwaves. It has always been a nightmare for them,' Matutu added.

The MDC-T legislator said the Minister of Information is supposed to pick three individuals from the list provided by parliament to sit on the broadcasting board, to oversee the country's electronic media. Those who have been nominated to join the broadcasting authority from the media commission list are academic Vimbai Chivaura, publisher Benson Ntini, former Mass Media Trust executive Godfrey Chada, media lecturer Clemence Mabaso, former ZBC executive Susan Makore and former ZANU PF legislator Kindness Paradza.

A Parliamentary Act to provide for the functions, powers and duties of the broadcasting authority was enacted in 2001, but not one single licence has been issued.In theory, once the board of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is in place it is expected to advertise and invite applications for the following licences: national commercial radio licences, national commercial television licences, local commercial radio licences and community radio stations.

Currently the country has three independent weekly newspapers and does not have any independent radio or television stations. In comparison South Africa has 36 private national newspapers and 110 private community newspapers, four private television channels, three public television channels, 49 community radio stations and 16 commercial radio stations.

(source : SW Radio Africa)