The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) yesterday gave the Super Mandiwanzira owned AB Communications’ Zi Radio and Zimpapers’ Zimpapers Talk Radio the country’s first two commercial private radio licences.
The two radio stations are owned by companies with links to Zanu-PF.
Zimpapers has for long been accused by some political players of being biased towards Zanu-PF and for promoting hate speech through its various newspaper titles. On the other hand AB Communications owner, Mandiwanzira is a known Zanu PF member. He was recently introduced at a Zanu-PF rally in Nyanga North as a potential parliamentary candidate for the party.
BAZ claims that the two radio licences granted yesterday were the remaining on the Frequency Modulation (FM) broadcasting services band for the provision of commercial radio broadcasting services of national coverage.
BAZ chairperson, Tafataona Mahoso, told the media yesterday that the adjudication procedure was split into a two-step process – the Qualification and the Selection Process.
“Subject to the number of licences available, the applicants who scored the highest number of points were deemed to be the winners of the licences,” said Mahoso while announcing the winning two radio companies.
“The two short-listed applicants who scored the highest number of points were therefore deemed to be the applicants to be issued with the two licenses.
On the basis of the total points scored by the applicants, AB Communications and Zimpapers, having complied with the Qualification Process as prescribed by law and having scored the highest number of points in terms of the objectives of the Act in the selection process are deemed to be the winners of the two licenses for the provision of free to air national commercial radio broadcasting services.”
Mahoso said BAZ will soon call for applications for fourteen commercial radio licenses for 14 urban areas.
Responding to the announcement Njabulo Ncube, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Chairman told Radio VOP that: “We are not surprised. It’s a sham. What is the difference between Zimpapers and AB Communications? The difference is the same. It doesn’t take media freedom anywhere. These are cosmetic reforms.”
“We knew that this was coming for as long as the BAZ was not reconstituted and the result was predictable.”
Four media companies were vying for the radio licenses including Radio VOP.