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Crisis Report - Issue 241
in Zimbabwe Coalition
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society assesses BAZ’s call for broadcasting licence applications
has welcomed the call by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
(BAZ) for applications for commercial radio licenses, but noted
that the existing broadcasting laws and licensing framework are
not conducive for a free press.
the Crisis Report on Monday, November 25, Media
Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter (MISA-Zimbabwe)
Director Nhlanhla Ngwenya said the call for applications by BAZ
was relevant to the goal of media diversity, but happening under
a discredited legal framework that limits press freedom.
concern is that they will be regulated under the same laws, which
are not conducive to a free media environment,” Ngwenya said.
Services Act under which they are calling for the applications,
also prohibits media organisations partially or wholly owned by
been calling for the Broadcasting Services Act to be revised.”
Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) in a statement said it
had reasons not to be over-confident of the government’s intentions,
although it welcomed the decision to call for applications.
MMPZ welcomes this invitation, there are several reasons why we
remain skeptical of the sincerity of government’s intention
to genuinely free the air-waves,” the statement read. “Chief
among them is the fact that BAZ is inviting applications under the
same old discredited legal and institutional framework.
the BSA, under which the applications were invited, contains restrictive
provisions that appear to contravene the letter and spirit of the
Apart from the
stringent funding parameters for applicants, MMPZ doubted the impartiality
of the BAZ as a licensing authority, and the manner in which the
body was appointed during in the Inclusive
of BAZ itself has been a subject of serious debate, as the Media
and Information Minister at the time, Webster Shamu, unilaterally
appointed it in September, 2009 during the existence of the coalition
government,” MMPZ said.
the BAZ board he constituted was packed with former military men
and Zanu-PF allies, thus compromising its independence from political
remains concerned that despite common agreement during the period
of the coalition government soon after its formation that BAZ and
other media boards required reform and was a pre-requisite for the
holding of national elections.
Zanu-PF government no longer considers this a priority before the
issuing of new broadcasting licenses.”
MMPZ said the
concerns derived especially from BAZ’s previous partisan handling
of applications for national broadcasting licenses, which resulted
in the controversial licensing of Zimbabwe’s first two private
commercial radio stations.
owned by businessman-cum-deputy minister in the Ministry of Information,
Media and Broadcasting Services, Supa Mandiwanzira, and Star FM
owned by State-owned Zimpapers were licensed amid criticism of BAZ’s
alleged bias in November 2011.
believes the authority bent the regulations regarding the transparency
and accountability of this process by not disclosing the type of
scoring system and related criteria employed in evaluating prospective
of the view that BAZ acted irrationally in awarding licences to
Star FM, in which the state has a controlling stake, and ZiFM, which
was run and owned by a prominent Zanu-PF member, as this en-trenches
Zanu-PF’s monopoly of the broadcasting sector.”
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