Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe to grant more Licenses for TV and Radio

Broadcast

Tererai Karimakwenda wrote that “The state owned Herald newspaper reported start of October 2010 that government had urged the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to license more radio and television stations, in order to provide remote areas of the country with access to information. The comments were made by Media and Information Minister Webster Shamu at a BAZ strategic planning workshop.

Shamu is quoted as saying: "Universal access to broadcasting services has remained on the government's wish list for the past two decades, but regrettably little progress has been made in that direction." Shamu gave no explanation as to why the government had not made progress in over twenty years, when all that is required is for them to issue invitations for license applications. A number of community, church and commercial radio stations would be ready to start broadcasting very quickly.

The Herald is known as a mouthpiece for ZANU PF. The paper refuses to run MDC adverts and only promotes ZANU PF policy. So when Minister Shamu told delegates at the BAZ workshop that "access to information was a right for every citizen," he must have been referring to government controlled information only.

The Herald report came just a day after several ZANU PF members of parliament surprised their MDC colleagues by voting through a Bill to amend the oppressive Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which Mugabe has used to block freedom of speech and movement. Known as the Public Order and Security Amendment Bill, it went through its second reading stage in parliament on Tuesday.

Observers believe that ZANU PF is trying to present the international community with the impression that they are willing to compromise on some of the unresolved issues in the Global Political Agreement, in order to pile up evidence for the removal of targeted sanctions imposed by the European Union and Western powers.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma and Botswana's President Ian Khama have now both lobbied the international community to remove the sanctions. Their pleas on behalf of ZANU PF came just weeks after the US government refused to remove the sanctions.

Minister Shamu had gone on to say that the only way to upset what he called the pirate radio stations was to invest in legitimate local expansion. He also claimed that the decline in television and radio service has marginalised remote areas while exposing them to 'hostile' foreign broadcasts.

This was of course a reference to radio stations like SW Radio Africa and Voice Of America, who currently broadcast from outside Zimbabwe. The very fact that Shamu used the words 'pirate' and 'hostile' is testament to ZANU PF's own negative attitude towards independent media, despite any words to the contrary.”