THE Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services violated the law by awarding broadcasting licenses in the absence of a Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) board, Parliament heard.
The BAZ board is mandated, among other functions, to invite and consider applications for all broadcasting licenses and it is yet to be constituted.
In December 2017, parliament had only shortlisted 12 candidates, of which six were to be considered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa for appointment to sit on BAZ.
Despite the absence of a BAZ board, some companies in the last few months received webcasting and video-on-demand licenses.
According to ZimLive.com, Magwegwe MP Anele Ndebele (MDC) told Parliament on Wednesday that the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services had usurped the powers of BAZ by issuing those media licences.
“This has been happening in absence of substantive Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe board. My question to the minister is this: is her ministry usurping powers and roles of BAZ?”
In response, Mutsvangwa said her ministry, as the mandate demanded was looking at all the parastatals and had just begun familiarising themselves with the legislative framework.
Ndebele insisted the minister had failed to answer his question regarding the legality of issuing out the licenses.
Mutsvangwa, who seemed unaware about the illegality, requested the MP to furnish her ministry with more details.
In May 2018, Econet Zimbabwe issued notices in the local print media announcing that it had acquired three Media Service Licences, which were: a Video-on-Demand Licence, a Webcasting Licence, and a Content Distribution Licence.
Econet said these licenses were issued by BAZ in terms of Section 10 of the Broadcasting Services Act.
Zimpapers was also awarded a content distribution license, reported to have been approved by the authority.
Recently in September 2018, diversified media group Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) was also awarded a licence for online television and radio channels.–bulawayo24.com