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Lawmaker Moves to Dissolve Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority Board

Tsvangirai MDC legislator Settlement Chikwinya proposed the motion in the wake of the decision by the Broadcasting Authority to issue two commercial radio licenses to state and commercial players aligned with ZANU-PF

Zimbabwean legislators are set to discuss a motion calling for the removal of the board of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and to initiate a fresh start to the process of issuing licenses for new commercial radio stations under media liberalization.

Mbizo legislator Settlement Chikwinya of the Movement for Democratic Change party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai advised Parliament on the pending motion following the recent award by the Broadcasting Authority of radio licenses to Zimpapers, a state publisher, and AB Communications, a group with close ties to ZANU-PF.

The motion calls for the dissolution of the broadcasting authority board, which was named unilaterally by Information Minister Webster Shamu, and for the appointment of a new board by President Robert Mugabe in consultation with the parliamentary committee on media, of which Prime Minister Tvsangirai is a member.

Chikwinya seeks the implementation of provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act to open airwaves and ensure media plurality and diversity.

Mr. Tvsangirai has accused Shamu of defying orders from the three unity government principals to reconstitute the Broadcasting Authority board, charging that the appointment of former Media and Information Commission chairman Tafataona Mahoso as BAZ chairman was intended to ensure licenses would go to ZANU-PF loyalists.

Njabulo Ncube, chairman of the Media Institute of Southern Africa in Zimbabwe said MISA backs the motion to overhaul the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe immediately. Ncube said media advocates have lobbied all MPs finding that many are not in agreement with the recent moves by the Broadcasting Authority.

However, political analyst Charles Mangongera said there is not likely to be real change to the authority without political will on the part of the unity government, where President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai are divided on many issues.