‘Kwese TV never applied for a licence’

Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Econet Wireless’ Kwese TV has never applied for a licence to distribute foreign television content in Zimbabwe, and players in the industry are baffled where discussions around that matter are coming from.

In separate interviews yesterday, players in the industry said the only licence they were aware of was that of Dr Dish that had since been cancelled after failure to pay basic charges that come with the licence for three consecutive years.

“We don’t know on what basis this discussion around Kwese is coming in, because Kwese has not lodged an application for a licence for distributing foreign content,” said one source.

“The application that was lodged and was considered in the affirmative is that of Dr Dish, and this was to distribute a foreign content service, which has since been discontinued in Southern Africa called My TV. Now, the whole argument being raised is trying to suggest that change of content supplier is immaterial to the licence.

“Government does not license people to sell doughnuts or biscuits in Zimbabwe. They are licensed to introduce foreign content into Zimbabwe’s airwaves, so the issue of supplier and nature of content is the soul of that licensing process.”

The source continued: “If there is a change of supplier, that is a material fact of the licensing process, and because there has been that change, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is correct to have cancelled that licence and in any event, they cancelled it after an inordinately long period of inactivity to that licence — not just absence of activity, but also even failure to pay basic charges which comes with that licence, which means it’s clear that there was no capacity in the first place.

“All of a sudden, there is new found capacity and a new found partner against the background of arrears, and strangely the expectation is that BAZ must overlook all that and just pass on that communication as if its inconsequential, yet it’s the soul of the licensing process.

“More importantly, the discussion is no longer about Dr Dish, it’s now about a non participant called Kwese TV, who has no status in terms of the licensing process to the extent that Kwese has not lodged any application to be licensed.

“There is this interesting conflation of Dr Dish and Kwese — the conflation, which creates an incongruous scenario where the applicant at law vanishes as a legal persona to be replaced by a non-applicant, who has no locus standi and all this represented by a legal firm, which is associated with the non-applicant and it gets one to wonder who the real applicant is.

“Moreso, in circumstances where there is no legal barrier to Dr Dish simply lodging a fresh application for another licence based on the new partnership, and secondly given that equally there is no legal barrier for this foreign domiciled local television content supplier to apply for the same.”

Another source said this was not the first time that Kwese TV tried to ride on the back of other companies’ licences.

“The first courtship is between Kwese, who is a non-applicant and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that collapses and secondly, there is courtship between the same Kwese and Zimpapers and again that collapses.

“Now, the same Kwese morphed as Dr Dish in very inexplicable circumstances and you wonder why Kwese cannot, as did DStv simply apply for a licence. It’s clear that there is that bad faith, which is being exhibited. Really, we also noticed that there is frantic lobbying of political figures, whose entry into the whole equation baffles the mind.

“There is absolutely no relationship between the status and performance of ZBC and the category of licensing under which Dr Dish was considered. The two are not mutually exclusive. The only common denominator is that, in this country and in terms of the laws that exist in this country, there is no broadcasting services that can be provided without due process of licensing.

“Please, let no one try to draw an analogy between apples and oranges and all this excitement is needless. If anyone is aggrieved, they should feel free to go to the courts.”

Another source explained how Kwese deals with Zimpapers and ZBC collapsed, exposing Kwese’s dishonesty and treachery in the whole equation. “The collapse of Kwese deal with Zimpapers came about because Zimpapers insisted on its corporate rights and when that happened, Kwese pulled out, which means essentially Kwese is not looking for any partner,” said the source.

“It is looking for a weak partner and the fact that they had come across a Dr Dish, which could not raise enough resources to sustain the licence, they already had suggested that the search for weakness was now over.

“In the case of ZBC, the idea was to defray costs of infrastructure by riding on a national broadcasting system in a relationship that was so slop-sided and the question that begs answers to all these scenarios is why Kwese is not applying for a licence?”

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