Afri-media boss wants Supreme Court intervention

HARARE - Director of African Open Media Initiative (Afri-media) Stanley Sachikonye, who is accused of breaching broadcasting laws, wants the Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of his case.

Sachikonye is being charged with contravening the Broadcasting Services Act for broadcasting without a licence after allegedly producing, packaging and broadcasting into Zimbabwe local news and other programmes through a channel called A-TV.

Sachikonye held a licence as a news agency authorising him to operate both print and electronic news.

But prosecutors say Sachikonye’s Afri-Media never highlighted in its application that it was a subsidiary of any other company as required by the law.

On Tuesday, Sachikonye, who was arrested and charged last year, told the court he intends to apply for his matter to be referred to the Supreme Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court.

Harare regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa advised him to file his application by May 16. The State indicated that it will oppose the move.

Prosecutors say Sachikonye, who was licensed in 2010, worked on programmes which were then broadcast into Zimbabwe through A-TV between February and September last year.

According to the State, Schikonye distributed Fortech and Wiztech free- to-air decoders to 19 households in Chitungwiza and one in Crowborough North as a pilot project.

Prosecutor Sidon Chinzete told the court the offence was “discovered, monitored and downloaded” to a compact disc by Mathias Chakanyuka, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) technical manager.

A combined Baz and police search at Sachikonye’s Belgravia offices led to the recovery of broadcasting equipment, decoders, documents and advertising material indicating that he was operating broadcasting services, according to the State. - Helen Kadirire

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