Patrick Chitumba Bulawayo Bureau—
THE digitisation programme is 25 percent complete and the project, expected to help rebrand the country, is on track for completion this year, a Cabinet Minister said yesterday. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Chris Mushohwe said this in Gweru during the Zimdigital Broadcast Content Creators meeting. Dr Mushohwe was accompanied by his deputy, Cde Thokozile Mathuthu, the permanent secretary, Mr George Charamba and officials from Transmedia and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
Responding to a concern by a participant that while digitisation was the way to go, it was open to abuse as the likes of self-exiled Pastor Evan Mawarire had abused the telecommunications sector to push for the ousting of a constitutionally elected government, the Minister said measures would be put in place to guard against abuse.
“This digitisation programme will see the country having 12 TV channels or broadcasters. Six of them will be independent. So with regard to the channel holders (broadcasters) we are learning. This goes also to the private telecommunication companies. We are going to put measures to see to it that they operate within the confines of the country’s laws. I won’t reveal now what we are going to do because it will give them time to change systems, but we are going to do something in that regard,” Dr Mushohwe said.
The Minister said the digitisation programme was now 25 percent complete. He said there were only two countries in Africa that had moved from analogue to digital adding that Zimbabwe was on the right track.
“We set a date last year but we failed to compete because of financial constraints. But we are now at 25 percent to complete the programme. We are grateful to Huawei of China who have managed to give us equipment to use even if we still owe them $11 million. We are working well with them and that is anchored on the rich history that we share with that country,” said Dr Mushohwe.
“The licences will be cheaper as compared to Multichoice who came here to make money out of our people. But as Government we are here for our people and that will see you paying next to nothing to access channels on ZBC TV.”
Dr Mushohwe said every area in the country will receive clear TV signals.
“We have places like Gokwe Nembudziya, Manicaland and others which have mountains and digitisation will help to improve that. After all we will do fill-ins in valleys so that every Zimbabwean has access to local broadcasting stations,” said the Minister.
He said content production was a multimillion dollar business which Zimbabweans, especially the youths, must take advantage of.
“The youths must embrace this digitisation programme. President Mugabe is very worried about the youths. He always wishes well for them each year as they graduate from schools. So this is an opportunity for them to create employment and be their own bosses in content creation for broadcasters,” Dr Mushohwe said adding that Government will be advocating 75 percent local content.
He said there was a lot of work to be done for the channels that will be operating 24 hours a day. “This is an opportunity for us to rebrand ourselves, rebrand our children, our society because for long we have been watching content from imperialists.
“It’s high time we rebrand and restore our values as we also make money for economic development at the same time. We want to be like Hollywood in America or Nollywood in Nigeria,” the Minister said.