BAZ challenged to open electronic media space

Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter

The new Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe board should expedite the opening up of the electronic media space in the country and ensure citizens enjoy their rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa at an induction workshop of the BAZ board members yesterday.

“Let me point out from the onset that there is a lot of expectation from both the Government, the public and other media stakeholders, for BAZ to aptly play its role towards the further freeing up of the electronic media space,” she said.

“The Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media, which rights include freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information. To a large extent freedom to receive and to communicate ideas and other information also depends on the authorisation given BAZ to enable broadcasting services to be provided across the country through licensing process.

“In any case, the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides for freedom of establishment by broadcasting media and other electronic media communication, subject only to State licensing procedures that are necessary to regulate the airwaves.

“To this extent, the BAZ is expected to ensure that the rights and freedoms pronounced by the country’s supreme law are respected.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the appointment of the board came at a time Government was pressing on with its reform agenda, including aligning media laws to the Constitution.

She said the ministry had already crafted a Strategic Plan covering the period 2019-2030 and was informed by Vision 2030 as enunciated by President Mnangagwa.

“Vision 2030 calls for the modernisation of national infrastructure, including the national broadcasting grid which is being attended to under the ZimDigital Project,” she said.

“Accordingly, in terms of the Public Entities Corporate Governance Act, the BAZ is expected to have in place its own Strategic Plan which speaks to that of the Ministry, particularly in the key result areas of increased access to information and improved media environment and good corporate governance.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said BAZ was also expected to assist the ministry in speeding the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting which is now three years behind schedule due to funding challenges.

The new Board chairperson Mr Charles Sibanda thanked the minister on their appointment and pledged to work towards the growth of the media industry.

“I am honoured for the appointment as the chairperson of the BAZ board, including that of fellow board members,” he said.

“By appointing us as members of the board, you have shown your confidence in us as individuals and as a team capable for delivering the board’s mandate.

“We can assure you of our commitment to this responsibility and that our focus will be driven primarily to grow the broadcasting industry in Zimbabwe, ensuring universal access to broadcasting services and diversity in the broadcasting sector.”

BAZ had gone for five years without a substantive board before the appointment of the new 12-member board in July.

The absence of a board affected the issuance of new licences as it is the only entity empowered by law to issue licences.

The board is chaired by Mr Sibanda, with the other members being Ambassador Bornface Guwa Chidyausiku, Tendai Karonga, V. Makamure-Nduna, Vimbai Nyakudya, Chief Mabikwa, Oliver Mandipaka, Rodin Mzyece, Victoria Spiwe Mamvura, Jonathan Mapinda, Audrey Chihota and Tendayi Chakanyuka.

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