Botswana: NBB Withdraws Kubara's Licence


Controversial Zimbabwean investor, Oscar Kubara has finally run out of time in his bid to set up a new TV station. The National Broadcasting Board has withdrawn a licence awarded to his proposed Pan-African television channel, Munhumutapa African Broadcasting Corporation (MABC).

The NBB chairperson, Dr Masego Mpotokwane revealed on Friday that they have withdrawn the MABC licence, though he did not disclose the reasons. The MABC was granted a satellite subscription television service licence in December 2007 but since then, the company has failed to commence broadcasting. The conditions of the licences were that the company should start broadcasting within six months after the issuance.

But the MABC failed to meet the deadline and was given an extension of six months. The company still failed to meet the second deadline which expired in December 2008.

When he was initially granted a licence, the smooth-talking Kubara claimed that the subscribers were going to pay P100 for a number of channels. He said MABC is going to broadcast in a number of African countries. But just like his big promises to the Botswana Football Association (BFA), the quest to broadcast in the country has become a cropper.

In 2008, Kubara mesmerised the soccer fraternity in Botswana when he said that his company was going to sponsor the Premier League for a massive P60 million for three seasons. The Premier League did not renew its sponsorship deal with cellphone service provider, Mascom due to the unprecedented sponsorship that MABC promised.

The MABC sponsorship was launched amid pomp and glory but there was nothing on the table to prove that the money was there. The alarm bells started ringing when the league had already kicked off with Kubara making one unfulfilled promise after another. At one time, he said there was no need to panic as the money would be there. At times he claimed that his overseas donors had not released the money. Eventually, a panicking BFA was forced to terminate the deal. The situation was saved when new cellphone service provider, be Mobile came to the rescue to sponsor the league. But still Kubara insisted that he was the one calling the shots.

While he was enthusiastic about the proposed football sponsorship, he was talking less about his company's core business of broadcasting. This is not the first time that MABC's broadcasting licence has been withdrawn following a similar action in Zimbabwe where the company had previously operated. Efforts to contact Kubara drew a blank as his cellphone was off air. The landline phone to MABC Broadhurst office is not working.

Mmegi 1 February 2010