No scrapping of licences: ZBC

Zimbabweans have described moves by government to scrap radio and television licences as long overdue – but ZBC management is insisting that it has not been officially directed to stop demanding licences.

Barbara Ndira
Barbara Ndira

New disks have already been dispatched to post offices, and will cost $30 a year for personal vehicle and $10 per term, and $50 a year for home TV and radio. Company vehicles licenses will cost $80 per year. People over 75 are exempt, and owners of used Japanese cars that do not receive ZBC signals still have to pay.

Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services and presidential spokesman, George Charamba, recently hinted that the legal instrument requiring people to pay licence fees, which he described as absurd, had been overtaken by events.

A snap informal survey in Harare’s central business district showed that people felt that paying the licences was unfair – particularly in view of the public broadcaster’s “biased coverage of national issues”.

“People are no longer enjoying ZBC services. We now have different radio stations and most people prefer satellite television stations. These licences should have been removed a long time ago,” said Lecious Mutizira.

Simbarashe Masenda said if carried out the decision would be welcome and hoped the local station would improve its programming because the “movies that people are watching on DVDs are eroding our culture”.

“Most people now rely on these DVDs for entertainment but they are not good for our culture because some of their contents are detestable,” Masenda said.

For a long time Zimbabweans were watching South African Broadcasting Corporation channels, but these were removed in the middle of 2013. As a result many people now turn to pirated DVDs sold by vendors across the country for entertainment.

Chiedza Masenda said the government should not talk about removing licences but should go ahead and scrap them immediately. Other people bemoaned the amount of money required to purchase a television licence saying it was beyond their reach. “Most of us live in poverty and given the importance of television in spreading information licences should be removed because people cannot afford them,” said Valentine Nyahora.

Barbara Ndira concurred with Nyahora that the fees were too high. “Removing the licences is a good thing. We wait to see if they will successfully implement their plans,” she said.

A radio licence costs $30 and a television licence is pegged at $50 a year and many are loathe to pay this money when they feel the state broadcaster does not even cater for their needs.

“I have never wanted to pay the licences anyway because every time you watch ZBC or listen to their radio stations you are constantly fed with Zanu (PF) propaganda,” said another resident who just gave his name as Marcus.

Beulah Nzema said she wanted to know why only ZBC benefited from the licence fees. “We now have other radio stations in the country and if the system was fair then they should also receive the money. Anyway most people cannot afford the licences,” she said. Nzema however said that she feared that without the revenue from the fees, ZBC programmes would deteriorate further. “Maybe they will not be able to afford new and better programmes,” she said.

Farai Mushekwi said “It’s a positive move. I am happy about it”. “We welcome the development but we hope the programmes will get better,” said Tawanda Padenga.

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