The government of Zimbabwe has poured cold water on plans by the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) to initiate a DStv channel ahead of the 2023 polls.
NewsDay Zimbabwe reports quotes CCC secretary-general Chalton Hwende as lobbying citizens to launch an alternative television station on DStv, a Sub-Saharan Africa direct broadcast satellite service owned by MultiChoice. Hwende said during a Twitter space discussion:
To launch a truly independent channel on DStv channel you need monthly fees of around US$8 000.
Let’s do it Zimbabwe — we are left with only 12 months before the election, and so we need US$96 000 and we free the airwaves.
In response to Hwende’s remarks, Information ministry secretary Nick Mangwana there will be no channel. He said:
Political parties can’t be given a broadcasting licence in Zimbabwe. The agreement with MultiChoice is that they can only carry licensed broadcasters in our jurisdiction. So guys the US$96 000 is your money, you can give it if you wish, but there will be no channel.
Private media players in the country have been struggling to get broadcasting licences, while critics say those who got licences are sympathetic to the ruling ZANU PF party.
The CCC party, led by Nelson Chamisa has often accused the State media, particularly ZBC, of bias in favour of ZANU PF.
Section 155 of the Constitution compels State media to provide all political parties and candidates contesting an election fair and equal access to electronic and print media, both public and private.
Zanu PF political commissar Mike Bimha recently advised CCC to use social media to reach out to its supporters because ZBC was not the only campaign platform.
Lawyer Tawanda Mapuranga said although political parties were not allowed to run broadcasting stations, the government was obligated to ensure the independence of the public media.
The European Union election observer mission in 2018 urged the government to reform the State-owned media to fully guarantee their independence and impartiality to enhance the credibility of polls.