Broadcasting Services Act
Fact Sheet Two:
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ)
The world over, democracy demands that the media must be free and unfettered in order to
impose checks and balances against the excesses of authorities.
Media freedom, particularly in the broadcast sector, means that, frequency allocation, the
licensing of broadcasters, as well as the technical administration of broadcasting is placed in
the hands of a self-sufficient independent broadcasting commission/authority or select
parliament committee. Political control of the media (or any form control for that matter) is
frowned upon in any society that claims to be a democracy, because it is an abridgement of
the fundamental human rights to free speech and expression through the media.
Zimbabwe is one such country that claims to be a democracy. However, the government
continues to manipulate the management of the broadcast media sector through establishing
a commission that is neither independent nor self-sufficient.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ):
Broadcasting Services Act [Chapter 12:06] (BSA), provides for the establishment of the BAZ,
which is tasked with regulating the broadcast media in the country (Section 3). However, a
close analysis of the sections that deal with the tasks, responsibilities of the BAZ reveals that
the Authority is, like the Media and Information Commission (MIC) established under the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) (2002), a proverbial toothless
bulldog which plays a secretarial role to the actual broadcasting authority, i.e. the Minister of
Information and Publicity!
According to Section 4(2) of the BSA, the Minister, in accordance with any directions the
President may give him/her, appoints the board which will run BAZ, consisting of not less than
five and not more than nine members.
In reality, this means the BAZ Board is appointed by the Executive, and not by the public (via
parliament) as is the case with most democracies the world over.
Further analysis reveals that the members of the BAZ board do not have any security of
tenure in office, as the Minister of Information retains the power to suspend or fire them using
his discretion (section 4 (3) and (4)). A BAZ Board member maybe dismissed for having
conducted him/herself in a manner that “renders him [sic] unsuitable as a member….” What
constitutes “unsuitable” behaviour is not defined and is left to the absolute discretion of their
employer, the Minister of Information.
The government seems not to trust authorities to effectively control the broadcasting industry.
The Minister is effectively the licensing authority with absolute discretionary powers to:
(1) decide whom and when to issue licences (section 5);
(2) the terms and conditions applicable to individual licences (section 11);
(3) decide on the amendment, suspension and cancellation of licences (sections 15
(4) singularly develop and cause the implementation of regulations applicable to the
broadcasting industry (sections 25(1) and 46);


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