Media reforms untenable

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THE proposed media reforms in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) roadmap have been described as untenable and costly since the country has no capacity to effectively monitor the operations of new players, especially in broadcasting. Analyst and Harare Polytechnic Media lecturer, Alexander Rusero said the GPA should not be seen as a permanent structure or institution of the country’s governance system and as such should not supercede the constitution. “Part C of the draft road map to elections is titled Media Reform and among the top agenda of media reform is the appointment of new board of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, new board for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and licensing of new broadcasters,” he said. “Somehow this is something that was already being done within the parameters of the supreme law of the land and again the problem from the onset is to look at everything from the temporary political settlement of the three political parties in Zimbabwe under the auspices of the GPA. “This is wrong in that Amendment 19 does not precede the constitution, it follows the constitution because according to the Broadcast Services Act, the responsible Minister has the mandate to appoint the board of directors for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.” He said it was also critical to look at the issue of the illegal economic sanctions when analysing the issue of media reforms as they have played a part in the destruction of the sector. Rusero said due to the debilitating effects of the sanctions, it has become difficult to register new players especially in broadcasting as it is not only a prerequisite of foreigners to start new broadcasting stations in the country. “Licensing of new broadcasters has never been put to a halt, but it is something that must be looked at with a realistic approach,” he said. “Due to illegal economic sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe, ZBC cannot procure new equipment and if the available broadcasting infrastructure is failing to cater for ZBC alone, then it is out of touch with reality to mention about licensing new players at the moment.” Mhondoro-Ngezi, House of Assembly member who is also a member of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, Mr Bright Matonga said Government was not yet ready to free the broadcasting airwaves because it had no capacity to monitor and control them. “There is no way the Government can be pushed to issue the broadcasting licenses now because according to a research that we carried out, the Government has no capacity to monitor and control those airwaves,” he said. “This means anybody who wants to get a licence to broadcast should buy monitoring equipment first and hand it over to Government so that you can be monitored.”

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