GOVERNMENT will soon be issuing out radio and television licences to new players as part of a drive to liberalise the media space and increase access to information.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said this in Bulawayo yesterday while addressing delegates who are attending the on-going Zimbabwe New Media Summit at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).
“As a ministry we will soon be issuing out licences for community radios. Of course, we are aware of the high demand which is out there for licences not just for public broadcasting but commercial television because Zimbabweans deserve more,” she said.
“We need to deepen that democratic space. We need to open up air waves and that process will soon be taking place.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said adequate preliminary works have been done and that adverts will be shortly publicised to invite those keen to set up new broadcasting stations. The entire process towards this is expected to be complete in two months time.
“The process is almost complete, we have a board, which we will place soon and will start to look at the spectrum to see how much we have. And then they will be advertising for applications and they will be choosing according to fulfilment of requirements and not who you are. This will be done according to the law,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said the licensing of new media players was part of a broader media reform agenda, which has already seen Government repeal draconian legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), among others. After thorough consultation with stakeholders, the minister said Government has unpacked and unbundled AIPPA to come up with three Bills. These are Freedom of Information Bill, Zimbabwe Media Commission Bill and Protection of Personal Information Bill. These new bills are awaiting Parliamentary hearing process before being ratified. “Yes, the process might take a long but as I am talking right now, they will be going to Parliament. The principles have already been accepted and Cabinet committee on legislation did look at them and also the drafters did their work,” she said.
“Now we will be moving to Parliament and Parliament will be taking it on public hearings and soon as that ends we are looking at the next two months at most but otherwise some of them will be executed in the next month or so.”
Minister Mutsvangwa also said Government was open to suggestions on how to improve its communication strategy with the public to ensure every Zimbabwean was abreast with the country’s developmental path. She said this was crucial in winning public trust and called on all Zimbabweans to unite in painting a good image about the country.
“We need to work together as Zimbabweans, it’s not us and them, we need to build confidence as a people together,” said the minister.
“This is the Second Republic. Our President is a very genuine reformer. He has kicked the gates of democracy so wide open and this is what we are talking about.”