The Media Institute of Southern Africa has asked the principals in Zimbabwe's national unity government to replace the board of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe so that it will be properly constituted to issue broadcasting licenses.
In a letter copied to the Southern Africa Development Community, the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe said the issuance of licenses to Zimpapers Talk Radio and AB Communications ZI FM was not only inequitable and counter to the principles of the Global Political Agreement, but unprocedural as well, as the current BAZ board was unilaterally appointed by the Information Minister Webster Shamu.
Misa Zimbabwe is urging the principals to take corrective measures so that the authority can start issuing out broadcasting licenses legally and even-handedly.
Misa issued the letter just as the Broadcasting Authority called for applications for 14 licenses for local FM stations in Zimbabwe's major cities and in towns such as Beitbridge, Lupane, Victoria Falls and Kariba, on the country's periphery.
Misa Advocacy Officer Tabani Moyo said the authority must be depoliticized in order for for it to act professionally.
“The granting of licenses to Zimpapers and AB Communications strongly suggests that all licenses are likely to be awarded to parties aligned to ZANU-PF," Moyo said.
The office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has declared that the broadcasting authority's issuance of licenses last week had no legal force because the body was not properly constituted under the Global Political Agreement for power sharing, as VOA Studio 7 correspondent Irwin Chifera reported from Harare.
Political commentator Zenzele Ndebele, also marketing manager of Bulawayo-based Radio Dialogue, said aspiring broadcasters have lost faith in the Broadcasting Authority because it has shown it will only give licenses to groups aligned with ZANU-PF.