No broadcasting licences for political parties: BAZ

MDC-T vice president and Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa

HARARE – Political parties are not eligible to apply for broadcasting licences in terms of existing laws, but are instead guaranteed access to available broadcasting services, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has said.

The statement follows queries by MDC-T vice president and Kuwadzana MP in Parliament last week on procedure for broadcasting licences for political parties.

BAZ chief executive Mr Obert Muganyura said Section 8 and 20 of the Broadcasting Services Act prohibits political parties from controlling or seeking broadcasting services.

“The BAZ would like to advise all political parties that the broadcasting law of Zimbabwe does not allow any political party to be the provider of any radio or television broadcasting service.

“This prohibition is in terms of Section 8 of the Broadcasting Services Act which provides for persons disqualified to be licensed, and Section 20 of the same Act under limitation of control of licences,” said Mr Muganyura.

He said according to Section 8 of the BSA, radio and television broadcasting licences can only be issued to corporate bodies and political parties do not meet this criterion.

Mr Muganyura said Section 20 of the same Act prohibits political parties and organisations from holding or having control of any broadcasting or signal carrier licence.

He said the section meant a political party or organisation could not be a shareholder in any broadcasting licence.

“Political parties, therefore, need not consider establishing their own radio or television stations as such stations cannot be granted the authority to operate in terms of the law.

“What political parties can be guaranteed of, as provided by law, is access to broadcasting services during an election period, in accordance with the regulations promulgated by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which regulate the media during that period,” said Mr Muganyura.

Mr Chamisa, who is also former Minister of Information, Communication and Technology claimed other countries availed broadcasting licences to political parties and that Zimbabwe must not be an exception.

In 2015, the MDC said it was planning to establish its own radio and TV stations arguing they were not getting enough airtime from the national broadcaster.

The party has also in the past published its monthly newsletter titled Real Change Times.

It also enjoys wide coverage in the local mainstream media in addition to the pirate Studio7 radio station based in and funded by the United States.