(5) interfere with and/or change the content of programmes broadcast by an licensees
(sections 11(5), 39(3) and 25(2); and,
(6) decide when to declare an “emergency” and take over broadcasting stations, and
broadcast using the station and equipment (section 39(2))
The Minister of Information is a government official and party functionary, and his/her
unfettered powers to appoint and dismiss members of the BAZ board, renders the board
susceptible to political interference and manipulation. It also means that a member’s tenure of
office is secured only at the benevolence of the Minister.
This provision in the Act granting the Minister wide and discretionary powers whose exercise
may circumvent the right to freedom of expression must be reformed to strip him/her of such
powers. Instead, it is suggested that the BAZ board should be appointed by and answerable
to a representative public institution like the currently existing Portfolio Committee on
Transport and Communications, which is composed of diverse and elected representatives of
the people of Zimbabwe.
The process of inviting applications, short listing of candidates, interviewing and appointments
onto the BAZ board should, as much as possible, be in the public eye so that the citizens of
Zimbabwe can feel they have a say in the running of their own country.
Further, it is clear that the structures that are created to administer the BSA and to regulate
the broadcast industry are similar to those created under AIPPA and the MIC.
The South African example:
There is a need to create an independent body to run the broadcast sector in Zimbabwe as
happens with most countries in the region and the world over. For example, unlike BAZ,
South Africa’s telecommunications and broadcasting regulating body, the Independent
Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), is independent and subject only to the
constitution of South Africa. The ICASA Act (2000) (section 3 (3)) states that:
The Authority is independent, and subject only to the constitution and the law, and must be
impartial and must perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice.
Further, the President of the Republic of South Africa may only appoint council members after
ensuring public participation and transparency in the nomination process (ICASA Act 5(1). In
addition, the ICASA Act sets fixed terms of office for all councillors, and sets clear conditions
on termination of service. The Minister of the Department of Communications (DOC), and all
other political figures have no power to interfere with the work and affairs of the ICASA. No
such guarantees can be found in Zimbabwe’s statutes
In fact, through the BSA, the government created the impression of compliance with the
Supreme Court’s decision to liberalise the sector, yet in actual practice, it kept its grip in all
manner of broadcasting in the country.


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