Kwese TV distributor demands reversal of license cancellation by government. Threatens legal action

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the company distributing Kwese TV in Zimbabwe has written to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) demanding that the cancellation of its license be reversed within 24 hours.

Kwese TV in Zimbabwe is providing satellite television broadcasting through Dr Dish, a licensed (or not depending on who you think makes more sense ) operator. Last week, Kwese made its service available to customers before BAZ issued a statement the same day declaring the service illegal. Kwese TV then suspended operations the next day.

Techzim is in possession of the letter written to BAZ by Dr Dish lawyers who are demanding that the license cancellation be retracted or government will have a legal battle on its hands.

Dr Dish is also threatening to sue the BAZ CEO, Mr Obert Muganyura, in his personal capacity, for any loss in revenue that Kwese is suffering due to what it is referring to as an “illegal decision”.

“We are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, the retraction of your letter of 22 August 2017 within the next 24 hours, failing which, we have instructions to file an urgent application declaring the purported cancellation of our client’s license to be unlawful,” says the letter in part.

We are reliably informed that the letter was delivered to BAZ on Friday, 25 August 2017.

The letter continues, “We also take this opportunity to notify you that we have received instructions to issue summons against you in your personal capacity for any damages that our client is suffering as a result of your illegal actions. Our client is currently calculating the damages based on the loss of revenue per day from the day you communicated your illegal decision thereby forcing them to stop business, to the day when your illegal decision will be set aside by the Courts. The law is clear that employees who cause damages to others by purporting to exercise powers that they do not have are not shielded from personal liability for their actions.”

Here’s a summary of what Dr. Dish explains as basis for the invalidity of BAZ’s license cancellation:

  • According to the law the BAZ CEO has no legal authority to cancel licenses.
  • Broadcasting licenses are not restricted in terms of who provides the content and therefore BAZ cannot cancel the license simply because the content provider changed from My TV Africa to Econet Media. The letter cites as an example the fact that DSTV distributes content supplied by several content providers.
  • BAZ is acting in bad faith as it was notified in October 2016 by Dr Dish of the change in content provider (plus that outstanding license fees would be paid by Econet Media) and it had accepted this notification, only to  turn around last week ‘pretending’ it had not accepted the developments.
  • The license cancellation is irrational because the Kwese TV content “is much cheaper and is payable locally using bond notes and RTGS money, and thus much more favorable to the consumer. “
  • The cancellation shows bias/discrimination and is a violation of Kwese’s “freedom of expression and of the media, and that of the public generally.”
  • It is biased against Kwese while favouring DStv and internet content providers such as YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter who don’t pay any licenses to ‘broadcast’ content in Zimbabwe.

The 12 page letter also dedicates a good portion to explaining why DStv is bad for Zimbabweans. We’re posting that in a separate article in the interest of keeping this one short and readable, as well so that it can be referenced easily separately in the future.

It is noteworthy that the Dr Dish lawyers in this case are Mtetwa & Nyambirai Legal Practitioners and that specifically, the letter to BAZ was written by Tawanda Nyambirai. Readers will know therefore that these lawyers are representing Dr Dish only in as far as Dr Dish are the license holders. For all intents and purposes, this is Econet Wireless, or just plainly, Strive Masiyiwa, commencing a legal battle against the government of Zimbabwe.

It is also good to note that Tawanda Nyambirai led part of the memorable legal battle Strive Masiyiwa fought against the Zim government in the 90s to establish Econet Wireless Zimbabwe. Masiyiwa once said that Nyambirai “has one of the finest legal minds” in the world.