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Report on The State of the Public Media in Zimbabwe (S.C. 10, 2006)
report of the Portfolio Committee on Transport Communications
Session – Sixth Parliament, Parliament of Zimbabwe
to Parliament on May 31, 2006
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The Committee in its over sight role enquired into the activities
of the parastatals that fall under the Ministry of Information and
Publicity. The institutions that the Committee looked into included
the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) where the Committee investigated
exercise that had been undertaken to transform it from one company,
Corporation (ZBC). The Committee held interviews with management,
and staff of Zimbabwe Television, National FM, and Newsnet who are
housed at the Headquarters at Pockets Hill, Radio Zimbabwe in Mbare,
and SPOT FM in Bulawayo.
also assessed the transmission services that are provided by Transmedia
Corporation and the licensing of players by the Broadcasting Authority
also assessed the operations of media houses and looked at the following
state owned newspapers, the Herald and the Chronicle. The Committee
also enquired into the turn around strategies and plans for recapitalization
for New Ziana.
was not impressed by what it saw at Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings.
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings was experiencing problems that emerged
out of the unbundling exercise. The new organization had nine operating
companies and each one was led by a Chief Executive Officer. In
the new structure some of the companies like Power FM and Radio
Zimbabwe successfully adapted to the new environment. Unfortunately,
the bulk of the companies who include SPOT FM, National Radio, Zimbabwe
Television, Newsnet and On Air Systems were failing to cope in the
new set up. The new thrust was profit driven but the faltering companies
were burdened by social obligations that required that they cover
national events that normally resulted in losses to these companies.
Some of the problems emanated from inter-parastatal debts that had
accrued over the years and were not being settled and others were
inherited from the Ministry of Information and Publicity as part
of the restructuring exercise. Your Committee observed that ZBH
had no resources; material, human and financial, to engage in a
project in the form of National Television. The Committee advised
ZBH to revise their plans and hence the indefinite shelving of the
noted that the ZBH had invested heavily in the 5 million Euro Iranian
facility that made possible the digitalization of Zimbabwe Television
and Newsnet. However, the facility was under utilized as news was
only covered for less than one and half-hours everyday.
identified problem areas that included poor staff welfare, inadequate
remuneration that was way below the poverty datum line in most instances,
lack of proper worker representations both in decision-making and
wage negotiations and an organogram that lacked authority demarcations.
At administrative level, the structure was top heavy. The companies
lacked capitalization, which resulted in poor programming, resignation
of experienced staff and conversely, an influx of novices in most
of the companies. The Committee noted that companies that were failing
to cope should be merged and that the issue of salaries must be
seriously reviewed in line with other organizations and other countries
within the region.
was informed by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists that they had
problems with being regulated by an external body. Your Committee
advised them to set up a body that regulates journalists and the
Media and Information Commission stated that they had no problems
with that arrangement.
held oral hearings and had written submissions from the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). It also had audience with other prospective
media players, in the form of Radio Dialogue - a community radio
in Bulawayo who applied unsuccessfully for an operating license.
The Committee learned that the current Broadcasting
Services Amendment Act No. 26 of 2001 was prohibitive and made
it almost impossible to license new players. The Committee was informed
that BAZ had made recommendations to the Ministry of Information
and Publicity that would require that amendments to be made to the
Act. The Committee was informed that BAZ was looking forward to
flighting the new adverts for applications for television and radio
stations by June 2006.
was also informed by BAZ that the only organization licensed to
provide transmission infrastructure, Transmedia, had no resources
to undertake the erection of transmitters. Therefore, your Committee
recommends that the operating license for Transmedia should be rescinded
forthwith as it has no resources to fulfill its mandate as the national
was informed that Zimpapers was operating profitably but major problems
had emerged at the Chronicle. The Management at the Chronicle stated
that they had no power to make decisions that matter and said that
they had a foreign debt that they were failing to pay off that was
consuming their profit annually. Generally, the workers committees
at Zimpapers alleged that they were being intimidated by the Chief
Executive Officer and were being dictated to in the collective bargaining
exercises and dispute settlements. Cases of sexual harassment and
nepotism were highlighted in parts but evidence gathered was not
substantive enough to warrant further investigation by the Committee.
was informed that New Ziana had problems with capitalization ever
since they stopped
being allocated funds in the fiscus in 2004. This had resulted in
the organization operating
on a shoestring budget and lately, they were experiencing personnel
unrest. The institution
was also stuck with radio transmission equipment and a station in
Gweru that they had no license for and could not operate. The main
problem that management highlighted was that they had no power to
make decisions as most of the decisions were made at a political
level and handed down for implementation. The Committee noted with
concern the fact that the current management at New Ziana presented
a one-page turn around strategy before the Committee. The Committee
wandered why the turn around strategy was not presented before the
New Ziana board subsequent to it being presented to the Committee.
Your Committee concluded that the New Ziana management had shown
its inefficiency and incompetence by their presentation, which showed
a lack of seriousness on their part.
recommended that restructuring at ZBH should be done in terms of
the old Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Company structure and have top structure with four
tears headed by: A Chief Executive Officer (first tier), a Directorate
(4); Human Resources, Administration and Finance, Broadcasting Services
and Business Development (second tier), Heads of Departments: News
and Current Affairs, Radio Services, Zimbabwe Television Services,
Information Systems, Engineering and Technical Services, Corporate
Services, Production Services, and Marketing and Business Services
(third tier), and editorial Staff (fourth tier). Transmedia should
be incorporated in the new ZBH structures as part of the Engineering
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