One stone, two birds

We have never believed that a Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, which was unilaterally appointed by Zanu (PF) and is headed by Tafataona Mahoso, was the ideal vehicle to usher in a new era of broadcast media plurality.

But we did not expect that Mahoso and his BAZ would be so eager to prove our fears right and in the most dramatic way imaginable – by seeking to use the so-called broadcast media reforms to further entrench the state (read Zanu PF)’s control of the airwaves.

For if not an attempt to tighten Zanu (PF)’s grip on the airwaves, what else is one supposed to make of Mahoso and company’s decision to put government newspaper group, Zimpapers, on the shortlist of applicants for the two free-to-air national broadcasting licences up for grabs?

Or what is to be discerned from the BAZ’s surprising decision to shortlist Hot Media and their KISS FM, who say they want to run a national broadcasting service but do not have capacity to gather their own news and will instead relay to our homes the same appalling news/propaganda from ZBC?

Then there is AB Communications – one of whose main players is Supa Mandiwanzira, a former ZBC journalist and a past president of the controversial Zanu (PF)-aligned pressure group, Affirmative Action Group.

The fourth applicant on the shortlist is Vox Media Productions, also known as Radio VOP. It already broadcasts into Zimbabwe via Radio Netherlands’ worldwide network. Radio VOP has been labeled a pirate radio station before by none other than Mahoso himself. It simply has no realistic chance of getting a licence ahead of any of the other three.

That leaves us with Zimpapers, Hot Media/KISS FM and AB Communications as the only real contestants for the two licences. It is, we must say, a masterly demonstration by Mahoso and his handlers in Zanu (PF) of what it means to kill two birds with one stone!

Mahoso will allow more players on the airwaves to save Zanu (PF) from the accusation that it is refusing to implement broadcast media reforms as required under the global political agreement. And it is the same Zanu (PF) that will get to reap the benefits, with two more sympathetic voices parroting its views and propaganda on our airwaves.

Or to put it differently, we demand relief from the monopolistic excesses of ZBC but they are going to give us two more mini-versions of the same. That’s Zanu (PF) for you, cocking a snook at the people – yet again.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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