THE country’s main opposition party, the MDC-T, has welcomed the announcement by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) that it will soon license 12 new players in the sector.
In a statement, the party’s spokesperson Obert Gutu however said it was concerned that State broadcaster ZBC has already been awarded six of the envisaged 12 new channels to be broadcast on digital satellite television.
“The MDC welcomes the announcement by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), that twelve (12) digital television channels will soon be launched in Zimbabwe.
“As a social democratic political party that firmly and fervently advocates for freedom of the media, the MDC is, however, very concerned that of the twelve (12) digital television channels to be launched in the country within the next few weeks, six (6) channels have already been taken up by the bankrupt and poorly managed Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC),” the opposition party said.
“It is frightening and indeed, very depressing news to learn that ZBC, a public broadcaster that has, over the years, hopelessly and dismally failed to operate as a genuine and non-partisan national broadcaster, has already been allocated half of the twelve (12) additional channels without going to an open public tender”.
Gutu said his party suspected that “the Zanu PF regime is already playing its usual games of ensuring that the electronic media is rigidly and tightly controlled and monitored to ensure that only the views and policies of the disintegrating Zanu PF party dominate the local airwaves”.
“The world over, dictatorial regimes abhor genuine media freedom. The Zanu PF regime is a classic example of a dictatorship. Everything about this regime revolves around one man and one man only and this is none other than the nonagenarian, Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
“As MDC, we can bet our bottom dollar that the Zanu PF regime will never, ever agree to situation whereby there is genuine media freedom in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The MDC-T cited the example of Information Minister Christopher Mushowe’s threats to in particular the private media for a hands off approach to issues to do with the country’s security services, describing it as “slippery ground”.
“Mushowe should be advised, in no uncertain terms, that Zimbabwe is living in the 21st century which is essentially the digital age. Gone are the days when governments could rigidly control and manipulate the media in an endeavour to suppress reportage of corruption and other acts of misdeed and impropriety in high public offices; including the s,” said Gutu adding social media has made sure the world is an open media space.Advertisement
Led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T has consistently campaigned for an opening up of the airwaves to no avail.
It has argued that the ZBC has refused to accord it equal access with the ruling Zanu PF party in the run-up to elections.