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Roundup Bulletin No. 15 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
May 11, 2012
Committee cross-examined Mr. Arafas Gwaradzimba, the former Administrator
of Shabanie Mashava Mines on Thursday 10 May 2012. The Portfolio
Committee on Media, Information, Publicity, Communication and Technology
heard oral evidence from the two companies that were recently awarded
radio licences and the losing bidder, Zimpapers’ Talk Radio,
AB Communications and Kiss FM, respectively, on the adjudication
process by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
Gwaradzimba’s Evidence to the Privileges Committee
Before Mr. Arafas
Gwaradzimba took oath when he appeared before the Privileges Committee
to answer allegations of contempt of Parliament
brought against him by the Mines Portfolio Committee, his defence
counsel Mr. Simplisius Chihambakwe raised a matter of procedure
regarding the presence of Hon. Jessie Majome. He argued that since
Hon. Jessie Majome did not attend the previous meetings where the
two witnesses were cross-examined, her taking part in cross-examing
Mr. Gwaradzimba, would be prejudicial to his client. The Privileges
Committee Chairman took note of the objection raised by the defence
counsel and said the Committee would make a decision on the matter
at a later stage but allowed the hearing to go ahead.
only lasted 35 minutes as the Committee had to abruptly adjourn
the hearing because one of its Members, Hon. Jorum Gumbo, had to
leave the meeting to catch a flight to South Africa to attend the
Pan African Parliament session. Despite the fact that the remaining
members formed a quorum, the defense counsel objected continuing
with the hearing in the absence of Hon. Jorum Gumbo, who had attended
the first part of the hearing. The rationale was that if the hearing
was allowed to go ahead, Hon. Gumbo would only have a partial picture
of the respondent’s evidence and this would be prejudicial
to Gwaradzimba when the Committee finally sat down to make its decision.
As a result, the Committee had to adjourn to a later date to be
announced to continue with cross-examination of Mr. Gwaradzimba.
Before the committee
adjourned, Mr. Gwaradzimba had refuted the Newsday story under cross-examination
by his defence counsel. He said before the Newsday story by Veneranda
Langa on 4 May 2011, Newsday had published another story about him
which he considered offensive. His lawyers raised this issue with
Newsday and the matter was still pending. Hence, when Veneranda
Langa approached him on 3 May 2011 seeking his response to the Mines
Portfolio Report, he was reluctant to grant her the interview. He
said he only accepted to speak to Ms. Langa on condition that he
would be allowed to see the draft article before it was published.
However, he alleged that Ms. Langa reneged on her promise at the
last minute as she said that was against Newsday policy. Hence she
went ahead and published the story.
also alleged that the Newsday reporter, Ms. Langa deliberately left
out most of the things in her report which he had said to clarify
the distortions in the press about his alleged conflict of interest
in the Shabanie Mashava Mines and his level of administration fees.
He told the
committee that when he was appointed by government as SMM Administrator,
he was given three terms of reference, (i) to ensure that liabilities
of SMM were settled, (ii) to raise money for the recapitalization
of SMM and (iii) to identify people who were culpable in contributing
to the collapse of SMM.
also dismissed the findings of the Mines Portfolio Committee. He
said out of the 24 legal cases involving SMM, the Mines Portfolio
Committee only confined itself to the UK court case whose outcome
was favourable to Mr. Mawere. He also alleged that the Committee’s
Report did not refer to his submissions when he appeared before
the Committee to give oral evidence. As stated above, the hearing
will continue at a date yet to be announced.
Evidence From Media Houses Recently Awarded Radio Broadcasting Licences
Committee on Media, Information, Publicity and Communication Technology
heard from media houses who were recently awarded radio broadcasting
licences by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) in 2011
on their preparedness to start broadcasting and also to hear from
the losing company its reservations on the adjudicating process.
To this end, Zimpapers Private Limited and AB Communications as
well as Hot Media Private Limited, respectively, gave oral evidence
to the Committee.
limited trading as Zimpapers Talk Radio Station was represented
at the hearing by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Justin Mutasa,
who was accompanied by Mr. Pikirayi Deketeke, Mr. Admire Taderera
and Mrs. Tomana. In his brief to the committee Mr. Mutasa said although
press freedom was desirable in Zimbabwe given that the press operated
in a society; however 100% freedom of expression in any given society
in the world was never possible. He said Talk Radio Station was
a business entity with no reliance on the fiscus and as such would
be guided by commercial principles in its operations. Mr. Mutasa
told the Committee that his radio station was set to begin operating
in the next 60 days and their equipment will be in place by the
end of the week. In terms of its editorial policy, Mr. Mutasa said
Talk Radio would be governed by an editorial charter which will
spell out its guiding principles. He said his radio station believed
in balanced reporting, fair and comprehensive coverage. However,
a major limitation of their operations was that they would use Transmedia,
the only signal carrier in Zimbabwe, which was currently facing
financial constraints to upgrade its infrastructure in order to
reach all the corners of the country. Currently, Transmedia’s
coverage reach was only 30% of the Zimbabwean population.
Mr. Supa Mandiwanzira
the CEO of AB communications and the major shareholder of the private
limited company (70%) also appeared before the Committee. He said
the laws of Zimbabwe and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe
guided their operations. His radio station was making plans to be
in operation in the next 90 days, with renovations underway, having
signed an agreement of supply with an Italian company. The media
house was currently in the process of recruiting personnel.
denied any political affiliation to any party as the reason he was
awarded a radio broadcasting licence. He said the reason their bid
was successful was purely on capacity, talent, and preparedness.
In terms of transmission, Mr. Mandiwanzira informed the Committee
that his radio station would use the satellite transmission using
the up-link and down-link system and thereafter distribute their
information terrestrially. To avoid duplication of duties, they
have gone into a partnership with Transmedia, where they will use
Transmedia’s towers to install their satellite equipment.
Committee called Hot Media private limited to hear their concerns
regarding the adjudicating process done by the BAZ in awarding radio
broadcasting licences. Ms. Victoria Sharon Mugabe informed the Committee
that Hot Media Pvt (Ltd) trading as Kiss FM was shortlisted but
did not manage to get a licence. In their view, they deserved to
be given a licence on the grounds that they had a broad-based shareholding
structure with none having majority shares. She also revealed to
the Committee that their bid indicated that the company had a budget
of US$5,4 million towards the setting up of the radio station and
roll-out programme. She further indicated that she believed their
bid was superior to the winning bids because her company had a collective
100 years of business and broadcasting experience. In their bid,
they had proposed to upgrade Transmedia infrastructure from analogue
to digital system as stipulated by the SADC Protocol on Media, which
has to be met by 2014.
Ms. Mugabe said
they viewed the adjudicating process as unfair and not transparent
as no clear parameters were set before the process began. Thus,
her company was proposing the appointment of an independent adjudication
audit. Further, Ms. Mugabe told the Committee that they felt the
process was not fair as they had to make their presentations in
front of their competitors who then took advantage of the opportunity
and made changes to their own presentations to meet concerns raised
by BAZ on their bid.
Quarter 2012 Budget Performance Report of the Ministry of Youth
Principal Director for the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenization
and Empowerment, Mr. Ngwarati, presented his ministry’s First
Quarter Budget Performance Report to the Committee on Women, Youth,
Gender and Community Development. He indicated that the ministry
was allocated $48 280 000 in the 2012 National Budget. However,
the period under review was characterized by late release of funds
by the Treasury. Only $298 000 was released to the ministry by March
2012. The money received by the ministry was used for critical areas
such as settling long standing utility bills to ZESA, ZINWA, TelOne
and NetOne. The money was also used for employees’ salaries
and as a result most programmes were not implemented as planned
because Treasury released small amounts of funds at any one given
of Parliament Sittings
Both House will
resume their settings on Tuesday 15 May 2012.
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