By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZIMBABWE will have six new television stations before the end of the year, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told Parliament last week.
Mutsvangwa said this when she appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services to give oral evidence along with State broadcaster ZBC management.
“We want our people to be able to watch their favorite programmes, such as sports and we are hoping that it will be possible within this year to actually issue six new televisions,” said Mutsvangwa.
Zimbabwe’s reclusive government has for years resisted demands to liberalise the country’s airwaves, in what critics argue was fear that its sordid rights record might be exposed.
But President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year campaign on a promise to open up the democratic space and allow for divergent views.
The committee also heard that government will take up the majority of the envisaged new stations. But Mutsvangwa there will not be any discrimination in the manner the licenses are to be issued.
“We will not be discriminating anyone who will apply for a TV licenses as a Ministry, we will be happy to see that there is a variety of TV stations, and through BAZ (the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe) we will ensure that we promote a wide range of broadcasting services to the people of Zimbabwe,” Mutsvangwa told the committee members.
“If there are any other applications for TV licenses they will be considered. We have room to move to up to 12 TV channels. We are also working very hard to make sure that BAZ licensing several partners so that we give a variety to our people.”
The committee also raised a red flag over the issuing of broadcasting licenses in the absence of a BAZ board. Since 1980, Zimbabwe has largely had only been on television station owned by ZBC.