ASPIRING MDC Alliance MP for Mbizo, Settlement Chikwinya has rebuked the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) for allegedly demanding prohibitive advertising fees from the opposition.
The opposition is keen to flight adverts with the State controlled broadcaster ahead of the July 30 general elections.
If the main opposition group were to comply with charges demanded until elections, Chikwinya said, it would need have to cough out up to $1,5 million in airtime fees.
“Which political party in this failing economy can afford such high rates?” Chikwinya said while addressing Kwekwe journalists Wednesday.
“We took a quotation from ZTV for our advertising. What we discovered in ridiculous.
“The MDC Alliance will need to fork out daily $57,936 for us to be able to have between today and the day of elections for us to be able to have 48, five minutes slots, two times a day during breakfast and evening times.”
The former legislator said biased media coverage has seen Zanu PF enjoy free airtime on the public broadcaster.
“Zanu PF is by default getting its adverts done because they are being covered under the presidential programmes as the ruling party.
“We have demanded to see proof Zanu PF is paying but that proof has been failing to come. But as the opposition, we are demanded to pay that hefty amount,” he said.
The outspoken politician, who once chaired parliament’s media and information committee, said ZBC radio stations were also demanding prohibitive airtime.
“For radio, for us to be able to get a 60 second slot, it’s $387 in the morning per slot.
“We will need between now and the elections, $259,366 for us to get radio coverage,” he said.
Chikwinya said it was sad there was restricted media space in the country, something which impacted on the possibility of the country seeing through free and fair elections.
“We are left with 26 days and we need to be broadcasting our adverts everyday. We have only one television station in Zimbabwe which is an unfair condition,” he said.
Chikwinya accused Zanu PF of closing media space at a time it has been reported the country had capacity to have 56 television stations broadcasting at the same time.
“If we go fully digital, we have a capacity of more than 153 television slots but they have remained with one television slot. We are still far away to have free and fair elections,” he said.
“The coverage which is given to (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa must be given to (Elton) Mangoma to (Nelson) Chamisa to (Joice) Mujuru and any other contesting candidate because they are on the ballot.
“Whenever you see Chamisa appearing on TV, it’s largely where he has not made a choice to be there.
“Where he had a successful rally in Gokwe, they didn’t cover. ZBC was there but they only do it for their files. They don’t do it for public consumption,” he said. – New Zim