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Roundup Bulletin No. 21 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
May 24, 2012
of Media Information and Publicity, Hon. Webster Shamu appeared
before the Portfolio Committee on Media Information and Communication
Technology to update the Committee on progress regarding the implementation
of media reforms in the country. The Portfolio Committee on Small
and Medium Enterprises received oral evidence from the Governor
of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Dr. Gideon Gono on the regulatory
framework that governs the financial services sector as it relates
to the small and medium enterprises in the country.
Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology
In his update
the Committee, Minister Shamu began by apologizing to the Committee
for taking so long to appear before the Committee saying this was
due to official commitments elsewhere.
his prepared speech, Hon. Shamu told the Committee that media reforms
in the country, in particular the liberalization of the airwaves
was necessitated by the Supreme Court Ruling of 2000 which ended
the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporations (ZBC) broadcasting monopoly
in the country. He said the Supreme Court ruling created a legal
vacuum and to deal with the situation, Presidential Powers had to
be invoked and hence the Broadcasting Service Regulations were enacted.
When the Broadcasting Service Regulations expired, a substantive
legislation was enacted in 2001, namely; the Broadcasting
Services Act [Chapter 12:06]. It is this Act that paved the
way for the licensing of new broadcasters and the creation of the
regulatory body, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), which
was mandated among other things with the management of frequency
spectrum and licensing of would-be broadcasters.
said BAZ conducted a national survey study in June 2003 to determine
broadcast priorities of the country. He said the survey report revealed
that in terms of radio priorities, Zimbabweans preferred the following
categories of radios services in order of their priority;
Radio Public Broadcaster
- Local community
- Local Private
Hon. Shamu informed
the Committee that the survey report also emphasized an overwhelming
wish for local content in terms of programming.
In short, the
Minister said the current media reforms in the electronic sector
were guided by the survey report which BAZ conducted in 2003. However,
the pace of the implementation has been hamstrung by lack of adequate
financial resources with which to develop the necessary broadcasting
heard that BAZ’s inaugural invitation for both national television
and radio licenses application in 2004, attracted only one application
for TV licence and 4 applications for radio were received. However,
all of them were not successful due to the stringent conditions
prescribed by the law then. He said the law has since been relaxed
through the Broadcasting
Services Amendment Act of 2007 and the constitutional
amendment No. 19, which gave more impetus to the licensing of
more radio and TV players.
composition and the appointment of the BAZ Board, which has been
one of the thorny issues in the Global
Political Agreement (GPA), Hon. Shamu told the Committee that
the appointment was done lawfully. He even read out a letter alleged
signed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Hon. Lovemore Moyo
and the President of the Senate, Hon. Edna Madzongwe recommending
nominees of the Standing Rules and Orders Committee to the BAZ Board.
He further vowed to resist any instruction to reconstitute the BAZ
Board from whatever quarter as long the Broadcasting Services Act
has not been amended to reflect new procedures of appointment for
the BAZ Board. In inference, he said the platform of the Monday
Meetings by the Party Principals was a political platform not a
On skewed public
media coverage, the ZBC Chief Executive, Happison Muchechetere said
coverage was based on the diary of events they received from ministries.
He said some ministries were not submitting their diary of events
to the ministry of information hence the reason why such events
were not covered. In terms of political activities of parties, he
said some parties were hostile to their journalists as a result
they found it difficult to cover such political events. On the same
issue, the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Media, Information
and Publicity George Charamba told the Committee that his ministry
only handled media coverage requests to do with government businesses.
He said to the end, his ministry has never received any complaints
from Ministers regarding public media coverage of the activities
of their respective ministries. He further told the Committee that
with respect to the coverage of political activities, the ZBC Chief
Executive uses his discretion as to which events to cover. Mr. Charamba
also informed the Committee that during the election period, ZBC’s
coverage of political activities is under the direction of the Zimbabwe
Election Commission (ZEC).
speech in the public media, Minister Shamu said this was not only
confined to the public media but the private media as well. He said
government was very concerned with this and government was in the
process of drafting legislation to address this problem.
Later to appear
before the Committee was BAZ representatives led by its Chairman
Dr. Tafataona Mahoso. Dr. Mahoso said the criteria for the issuance
of radio and TV licenses to prospective licencees were prescribed
in the Broadcasting Services Act. He dismissed claims by Hot Media
(KISS FM), one of the losing applicants, that the adjudicating process
was not fair as a case of sour grapes.
frequency spectrum that the country has for national radio stations,
the BAC Chief Executive informed the Committee Zimbabwe was allocated
6 slots by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), of
which 4 were already occupied by ZBC’s 4 radio stations leaving
2 stations, which were recently awarded to AB Communications and
Talk Radio, respectively. He said BAZ has invited applications for
14 community radio stations for now, though the country has 31 slots
for this category. He said Zimbabwe could not increase the number
of slots as the frequency spectrum allocated to each country was
controlled by the afore-mentioned international body.
He said while
the TV frequency spectrum was currently limited due to the analogue
system, there were future prospects for more slots once the country
moves to the digital system.
Committee on Small and Medium Enterprises
Gono highlighted to the Committee that 70% of Zimbabweans lived
in rural areas and the better part of this population falls under
the Small and Medium Enterprises category. He argued that the sustainability
of the SME welfare is of great importance as the welfare of SMEs
is intricately linked to the achievement of the Millennium Development
The RBZ Governor
noted that the biggest challenge to the SMEs was a fragmented legal
framework which raises costs of establishing a business. He said
there was need for a comprehensive SMEs policy.
Dr. Gono informed
the Committee that in an effort to promote financial inclusion and
ensure access to finance by SMEs, a number of banking institutions
have established SME divisions or units to provide capacity building
and financial services to SMEs. He revealed to the Committee that
US$164,3 million translating to 5.95% of total loans in the sector
were extended to the SMEs. The Governor however, singled out Barclays
Bank as one bank that has offered no loans towards the SMEs in the
were noted as the major impediment to the informal sector’s
ability to deposit their funds. Dr Gono highlighted that the bank
charges issue has been of major concern to both the policy-makers
and the public and hence the issue was receiving attention from
the authorities. He informed the Committee that he has discussed
this issue with the Minister of Finance and a conclusion will be
announced latest two weeks from today.
Dr Gono said
the SMEs should take advantage of the Indigenization Programme currently
underway through the Equity Approach and Supply Side Approach. On
the Supply side approach, he believes in an approach where most
SMEs can be contracted by the big companies to supply inputs or
parts for the production of end goods.
Dr Gono informed
the Committee that RBZ licenced 18 out of 20 banking institutions
to conduct cell-phone banking, which will see most unbanked population
of Zimbabwe being able to access financial services. This will greatly
assist the SMEs sector to do their financial transactions without
On the concern
by the Committee regarding micro-finance institutions who were in
the habit of auctioning properties of bad debtors, the RBZ Governor
said such institutions should be reported to the central bank for
appropriate action to be taken.
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