Iran to help Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp go digital

Technology & Convergence

Zimbabwe and Iran have resuscitated a deal to digitalise the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation as the national broadcaster moves to comply with a 2015 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) deadline. Media, Information and Publicity Ministry Permanent Secretary George Charamba said a technical team from Iran was expected in Zimbabwe soon to start work.

Charamba was giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology. He said ZBC chief executive officer Happison Muchechetere was in Iran last week to this end

Zimbabwe and Iran entered a deal for the Middle East country to digitalise ZBC’s transmission. However, the deal faltered when Harare failed to service its debts. Charamba said Zimbabwe’s Embassy in Iran had approached him on the matter. “We did not service the debt not because of ZBC, but our (Zimbabwe’s) debt was tied to other departments, which had the biggest chunk, so the Iranians just froze it,” said Mr Charamba.

Muchechetere told the committee that among the engineers coming would be a translator conversant in both English and Arabic. Engineers from Iran will train their local counterparts how to use the installed equipment, Mr Muchechetere said.

Charamba said it was important to adequately fund Zimbabwe Broadcasting  holdings (ZBH) and other parastatals under the Information Ministry so that they are able to properly discharge their national duties and obligations. He said under-funding meant ZBH could not cover the whole country.

Treasury, said Charamba, had released US$800 000 for capital projects and Transmedia was using the money for the purchase and installation of transmitters in Beitbridge and Plumtree.

Turning to the Ministry’s 2011 national budget, Mr Charamba said they wanted to improve infrastructure such as transmitters. He said Treasury should also fund the recently constituted Zimbabwe Media Commission as it was currently battling to meet recurrent expenditure.