BAZ Calls For Licence Applications, Critics Say Its Zanu-PF Fundraising Strategy

In a Sunday Mail newspaper advert, BAZ pegged the application fees at a non refundable rate of US$2500 and an additional US$7500 for public enquiries.

BAZ has further pegged the basic licence fee at an exorbitant US$50 000 plus a 1 percent annual gross turn over.

Successful licence holders would also be required to part with US$30 in frequency fees every month while the broadcasting fund would be 0.5 percent of the audited gross annual turnover or deemed turnover payable annually.

BAZ has set January 31, 2012 as the deadline for licences which would be valid for 10 years.

According to BAZ, a single broadcasting licence has been offered for each of these urban centres, Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Gweru, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Gwanda, Marondera, Lupane, Plumtree, Kariba, Victoria Falls and Beitbridge.

But the steep application and running fees have elicited sharp criticism from ordinary Zimbabweans and interested groups who feel the charges are too prohibitive and confirm BAZ’s insincerity while keeping the country’s broadcasting industry a closed domain.

Community Radio Harare (CORAH) station manager Stewart Musiwa slammed the prohibitive costs and further accused BAZ of trying to fundraise for Zanu-PF aligned stations.

“The charges are extremely unfair,” he said, “I think these people (BAZ) are on a fundraising mission to finance their own radio stations.

“Given that two national commercial licences have since been issued to Zanu-PF aligned personalities, it would not be surprising to find they have pegged the charges at such prohibitive costs to finance their own stations.

“They already have people they have earmarked to issue with these licences. Given the experiences that Radio VOP has gone through while applying for a licence, I do not think any sober minded prospective
broadcaster will join the race, worse still knowing they would not be refunded their money.”

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) has also dismissed the BAZ invitation.

“As Misa Zimbabwe we welcome this development but what happened last week does not inspire confidence at all neither does it make us hopeful that these will be independent,” said MISA-Zimbabwe board chairman Njabulo Ncube.

“The application costs are also stiff and some of the areas being mentioned can’t support a finance viable broadcasting project. For instance, there is no development to talk about in Lupane which is failing to build a permanent university.

“There is no trade to talk about in that dust-bowl except for run-down bottles stores and eating houses. There are no industries and companies to support a proposed radio station in terms of adverts, which is the life-blood of a radio station.”

BAZ chairman Tafataona Mahoso refused to comment citing “procedural issues”.

“Did you see my name on the (BAZ) advert?” asked Mahoso.

“Phone the numbers you saw on the advert and if there are queries that can be referred to me, I can then comment. We must follow procedure. I don’t chair myself, I chair a board.”

Subsequent attempts to seek comment with BAZ CEO Obert Muganyura were fruitless as he was continuously said to be in a meeting.