By Staff Reporter
OUTSPOKEN Mabvuku-Tafara MP, James Maridadi has scorned his former employers at ZBC for failing to transform into a competitive broadcaster when the country was first ahead of its neighbours to introduce a television station back in the 1960s.
Maridadi was guest speaker during Friday’s launch of a fresh campaign for the licensing of community radio stations by government.
The event was organised by the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras) working with Amnesty International Zimbabwe.
In his comments, Maridadi lambasted the government for its continued reluctance to open the country’s broadcasting space to private players.
He said Zimbabwe was first to introduce a television station back in the 1960s but remains the only country in Southern Africa that still has one television broadcaster.
Even though, Maridadi continued, ZBC-TV has failed to inspire any confidence it was a competitive station through poor programming and a host of other undesirables.
The MDC-T lawmaker said ZBC presenters often looked shabby and could not be compared to those from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) who wear mint suits that show they have been dry cleaned and have “indeed taken a bath”.
Before and soon after independence, Maridadi said, football analysis on ZBC was way ahead of that of SABC but today, the same analysis on ZBC has “retrogressed”.
Maridadi was once a DJ with ZBC’s English radio station, Radio 3 (now PowerFM). He abandoned the station in 2000 to pursue carriers that would later find him in the august house.
Since the time, he said, he has not managed to watch television or listen to any of the ZBC radio stations for more than an hour except at the time former First Lady Grace Mugabe used to enjoy lots of airtime during her rallies “just to see who she would be insulting this time”.
“Since I left ZBC in 2000, if I put together all the time that I have listened to all the four radio stations including television, it would not add up to an hour. When I listen to ZBC, I get angry with myself to say why am I allowing my country to sink like this,” he said.
Maridadi urged those campaigning for licensing of private broadcasters to dump their unyielding diplomacy and confront the Zanu PF led government over their concerns.