Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT targets to have licensed at least 25 radio stations across the country within the next two months should Treasury make timeous disbursement of funds, an official has said.Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary Mr George Charamba said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe was in the process of short-listing applicants.
He was giving oral evidence before a parliamentary portfolio committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services on his Ministry’s overview about the 2014 national budget allocations.
“The pressure that I am facing is that Government will disburse as per revenue inflows. Meanwhile, we are in the process of licensing new broadcasters which is happening within the context of this month and possibly spilling over into next month.
“You then have that desonance between pace of disbursement on one hand and the pace of licensing on the other,” said Mr Charamba.
“But that takes you to a bigger problem. It means Transmedia will have the means of handling all the 25 new signals and again the issue of disbursement will come through.
“I am just wondering whether we will have the language to persuade Finance to front-load allocation in respect of BAZ and Transmedia.”
He said invitation for applications have already been done and what remained were the subsequent processes like convening public hearings, which he said would require money.
“There are public hearings which are quite costly. There are certain things that we do by way of managing that whole process. That means the whole process has to be well funded so that we see it through,” he said.
Mr Charamba said there would be retrenchment at New Ziana so that the institution remained with core staff.
“We have a disproportionate amount of workers who are related to administrative services,” he said.
New Ziana, he said, had requested US$973 200 but got US$660 000 from Treasury, a figure he said fell far short of what they had set out to achieve.
“We think we should be able to see some phased retrenchments in respect of New Ziana so that we are in a position to work within the means of available resources,” he said.
Mr Charamba commended New Ziana for being innovative, something that saw it realising some profit which it wanted to declare as dividend but the Ministry declined urging it to plough back.
He said the ministry remained concerned that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation might fail to beat the 2015 digitalisation programme deadline owing to lack of funds.