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Mnangagwa's govt committed to opening up airwaves

by Staff reporter
31 May 2019 at 07:28hrs | Views
Government under the Second Republic is committed to opening up the airwaves and promoting freedom of expression and dissemination of diverse views, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa has said.

She said this when she appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.

She was accompanied by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Nick Mangwana, Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Obert Muganyura and his ZBC counterpart Mr Patrick Mavhura.

"The Second Republic is working very hard to make sure we open the airwaves, freedom of expression is very important, we have very educated people and we need those people to release their energies and bring new ideas on board which will take this country where we want it to be as a people," Minister Mutsvangwa said.

"We are working very hard to ensure that we are also able to license a number of players to bring that variety. It's important and the Broadcasting Services Act which is being amended will enable BAZ to issue licences to several partners so that we give variety to our people.

"We are hoping that this will be possible in 2019 and we can actually issue like six licences."

Minister Mutsvangwa said the opening up of the airwaves was in line with the provisions of the Constitution to promote freedom of expression. She added that the new boards for BAZ, ZBC and Transmedia were expected to be appointed by June 20.

"We do have a mammoth task of reforming the media and this is in line with the vision of the Second Republic to make sure that we bring everyone on board.

"We have seen the benefits of opening up and deepening democracy and bringing everyone on board that is why we are carrying out these legislative reforms," Minister Mutsvangwa said.

She told the Committee that Cabinet had since approved principles to three Bills namely, the Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill, the Freedom of Information Bill and the Protection of Personal Information Bill and would be ready for tabling before Parliament by August.

The minister also denied perceptions in some quarters that her ministry interfered with operations of publicly owned media.

"As a ministry what we do is provide policy guidance, we do not interfere in their editorial policies. We are not even involved in who is hired or fired and I think these are issues we need to be very clear on," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Mangwana denied allegations that BAZ had illegally issued licences to some operators without a board and the holding of public inquiries.

The licences issued were for content distribution, video on demand and web casting to several players.  

"The licences that were issued are licences that do not take any part of the spectrum meaning these licences are not limited. our interpretation of the law which the Attorney General agrees with is that you have a public inquiry where you have a limited resource and you say who should we give this and the public sees how that limited resource is distributed.

"But these licences that were issued are licences that anyone can walk and apply for and get the licence. "So in terms of freeing up the airwaves and allowing right of establishment their (BAZ) interpretation of the law and the Constitution is one that is permissive, it is allowing broadcasting services to be established," Mr Mangwana said.

Source - chronicle