ZBC licence challenge: Judgment reserved

HARARE - The Constitutional Court has reserved ruling in Harare West MP Jessie Majome’s challenge against the constitutionality of paying ZBC licence fees.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who was leading the full Constitutional Court bench, yesterday reserved ruling in Majome’s case after hearing submissions from her lawyer Ray Goba and the national broadcaster’s legal practitioner Tazorora Musarurwa, who appeared together with Alex Mambosasa.

Goba said ZBC was not justified to collect licence fees.

“The monopoly being enjoyed by ZBC is unconstitutional,” he said.

He said there was need to verify if the issue was constitutional in a democratic society, adding that the licensing “scheme” was irrational, arbitrary and unjustly coercive on the public.

Musarurwa, on the other hand, said the Constitutional Court cannot hear the matter as a court of first instance. He said the Constitutional Court is not the only court that hears constitutional matters, adding that the Magistrates’ Court and the High Court had jurisdiction to hear such cases.

“There is no reason why the applicant should be in this court at this stage,” he said, arguing that the case was a policy issue, which should be left to policy makers.

Majome’s case is similar to three other cases that were brought before the full Constitutional Court bench yesterday.

Musangano Lodge, Bernard Wekare and African Open Media Initiative’s cases were also brought before the Constitutional Court and are making similar demands. The three are represented by Thabani Mpofu.

The three, just like Majome, approached the Constitutional Court seeking to enforce their rights, challenging the constitutionality of paying ZBC licence fees.

Majome, a senior MDC member, argued that she was not prepared to pay the licence fees because the public broadcaster was not impartial in its dealings, particularly regarding the coverage of events, positions and programmes of political parties operating in Zimbabwe on its television and radio stations.

“ZBC is openly biased towards Zanu PF party which is led by President Robert Mugabe,” Majome said.

“The bias applies in its general reporting, news casting and programming. This bias towards Zanu PF is detrimental to other bonafide political parties, particularly MDC of which I am a senior member.”

Comments (4)

yes madam most zimbabweans are forced to pay these licences eg motorists but very few if any listen to zbc/tv.put an online vote to see the responses.Alternatively let zpf supporters pay for their stations

ndozvo mhaiyo - 13 November 2014

Once a judgment is reserved at Supreme court you know that the opposition has won but the bench is busy consulting . They will then be advised to sit the judgment until forever. Remember the unconstitutionality of AIPPA and POSA. So many challenges at Supreme court have been heard and judgments still pending . This Supreme court bench is zvipfukuto zvapa parallel market chaizvo .

Jukuja - 13 November 2014

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