Parliament shortlists candidates for Baz board

HARARE – The Parliament of Zimbabwe has shortlisted 12 candidates from which six will be considered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa for appointment on the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Board (Baz).

The shortlisted candidates include former National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) assistant director Audrey Charamba, Tendai Jennifer Chakanyuka, Miriam Tose Majome, Killiana Bangure, Lynette Magaramombe, Admark Moyo, Tatenda Mugabe, Zvinoera Chabudapasi, Muchaneta Pawandiwa, Jonathan Mapinda, Itai Muzvidziwa, Tazorora Takunda and Goto Musarurwa.

Parliament of Zimbabwe

The Broadcasting Services Act provides that Parliament must give the president six nominations from which he chooses three to be appointed to the Baz board. At least one of the three should be a woman.

According to an advertisement by Parliament, the 12 will undergo interviews on Friday.

“The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders (CSRO) is mandated by section 42 (b) of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Act (Chapter 12: 06) to nominate six (6) candidates for consideration by His Excellency the President for appointment to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe board.

“In line with this mandate, Parliament has shortlisted 12 candidates for interviews which have been scheduled for Friday, December 8 in the Senate Chamber, Parliament Building,” read part of the advertisement.

The Baz board’s duties include evaluating applications for all broadcasting licences and the monitoring of broadcasting licensees’ tariffs to protect the interests of consumers.

In October the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (Maz) said the new Baz board won’t be of much help under the current media policy and legislative framework, particularly the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Act (BSA).

Maz is an alliance of media organisations including the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (Zuj), Zimbabwe National Editors’ Forum (ZINEF), Gender and Media Connect (GMC) and the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ).

“The establishment of the Baz Board should be informed by Section 61 of the Constitution, which provides for freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

“The importance of having an independent regulator is also enunciated in the African Charter on Broadcasting (ACB) of 2001…In contrast, the BSA does not clearly provide for the establishment of an independent broadcasting authority.

“If anything, it creates room for executive interference in the operations of Baz as obtained in Section 4 of the Act, which merely vests the powers to appoint the Board with the president in consultation with the minister and the CSRO without clearly outlining the format and degree of the consultative process,” said Maz in a statement.

Maz wants the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Act (BSA) to be amended.

“As such the BSA should be amended so that the appointment procedure and composition of Baz is done in a public and transparent manner, where all candidates who qualify can apply and are treated equally, and are not chosen by politicians of the day on the basis of partisan interests.

“There must be input not only from elected representatives, but also by other stakeholders from the media sector and the broader civil society. The process should ensure quality personnel who can undertake their responsibilities swiftly, diligently, and without fear or favour,” added Maz, which is also unhappy with the powers vested in the relevant minister.

“Furthermore, the BSA has some provisions that give worrisome authority to the Minister which in effect could compromise the independence of the regulator and the licensing process.

“Besides Section (2) (q) which grants the minister power to assign functions to the regulator, Section 4B permits the Minister to give the regulator general directions relating to the policy Baz is to observe in the exercise of its functions, which the Minister considers to be necessary in the national interest.”