Victor Maphosa Herald correspondent
Six licences for free-to-air commercial television services are now available, along with almost 30 community radio licences for services across the country, as part of the reforms of the media landscape.
Television applications to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe cost $42 000, plus $127 000 for a pubic inquiry.
Applications for 10-year community radio licences attract a fee of $8 500.
A wide spread of these community radio stations is planned for Rukotso, Susamoya, Empandeni, Maphisa, Ndolwane, Plumtree, Chipinge, Chimanimani, Gwendingwe, Rutsitu, Chibuwe, Chikombezi, Chiredzi, Rutenga, Mahenye, Malipati, Manama, Legion, Binga, Kamativi, Kariba, Mapenga, Siabuwa, Beitbridge, Shashi, Mbembesi, Shamva and Alaska.
Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said the move bore testimony that President Mnangagwa walks the talk on media reform.
“This is a sign that President ED Mnangagwa is walking the talk regarding media reforms,” he said.
“We have seen this at different levels. At the legislative level, we have two Bills that will repeal AIPPA which are already at second reading stage in Parliament. These are Bills that are coming out of a very wide consultative process with stakeholders.
“We continue to hold all-inclusive consultations even at this stage. The second level of media reforms involves governance issues. We are bringing in best practice and putting in place structures that support transparency and accountability.”
Mr Mangwana said this was why all media-related state entities were getting boards, including those that had not had some for over five years.
“You also saw for the first time in 20 years, the President reviving the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust to act as the watchdog and steward in the media companies Government is invested in.
“The President could have maintained the status quo and let the ministry remain in direct charge in the majority shareholder role. But he chose to place a buffer between the media houses and Government in the form of ZMMT.”
Mr Mangwana said the last level is that of enhancement of media diversity and pluralism.
“This is where we bring more players in the broadcasting sector by licensing more TV stations and completing the three-tier broadcasting system through the launching of Community Radio Stations.
“Freedom of expression is given more legs and communities empowered,” said Mr Mangwana.
Mr Mangwana said with these reforms, democracy was guaranteed.