Misa blasts ZBC-TV for Monday blackout

HARARE - Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC-TV) has been blasted for blacking out part of the live coverage of the commission of inquiry during MDC president Nelson Chamisa and deputy chairperson Tendai Biti’s testimonies earlier this week.

This comes after the State broadcaster, blacked out part of the live broadcast during a live session of the Kgalema Motlanthe-led commission of inquiry where Biti and Chamisa slayed the ruling party, laying historic tirades about abuses the MDC members have gone through at the hands of Zanu PF government for the past two decades.

Curiously, the blackouts did not affect the ZBC live streaming on their Facebook channel which was up and running with no glitches.

Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe (Misa) has castigated ZBC’s actions saying the national broadcaster lacks independence while its governance falls way far, and is politically compromised and lacking full public participation. “Over the years, the monitoring of the public broadcaster by Misa-Zimbabwe and other media freedom lobby groups has indicated its lack of editorial independence, partisan coverage or complete censorship of national events, in violation of the broadcasting law in particular part 1(d) of the Seventh Schedule.

“It compels ZBC to provide news and public affairs programming — which meets the highest standards of journalism, and which is fair and unbiased and independent from government, commercial or other interests,” Misa said.

ZBC has also often been criticised by the international community with most post-election reports from reputable organisations such as the European Union revealing that the national broadcaster was prejudiced in its reporting and broadcasting, favouring the ruling Zanu PF party.

Misa also said there is need for ZBC to be an independent body corporate, established to serve the overall public interest without interference from any quarter.

“In its bid to provide broadcasting services, it should ensure full respect for freedom of expression, promote the free flow of information and ideas, assist people to make informed decisions and facilitate and strengthen democracy.

“ZBC should have, in place, policies to ensure its protection from any form of outside interference or attempts to compromise its independence,” Misa said.

ZBC’s policies have triggered the populace to snub the broadcaster, dodging payment of television licences, preferring to subscribe to DSTV which is deemed impartial and more entertaining.

ZBC’s reputation has also led to rants by the public on social media, with many demanding its independence and transformation in serving the people impartially.

Information Publicity and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Energy Mutodi has, however, dismissed the allegations of political sabotage saying that the Monday blackout was a technical glitch.

“Sometimes the ZBC experiences some technical faults and power outages leading to intermittent cuts to otherwise normal broadcasting.

“I am sure the Monday blackout was as a result of technical reasons and not any other,” Mutodi said.

This also comes as the Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana has been holding meetings with media practitioners to make amendments on Media laws in Zimbabwe.


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