Fungai Lupande, Harare Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) group has become a leader in information delivery, going beyond its founding mission despite other media parastatals being constrained by old technology platforms, the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Simon Khaya Moyo has said.
Minister Khaya Moyo said the remarks while responding to the portfolio committee on Information, Media and Broadcasting Services on next year’s budget proposal in Victoria Falls over the weekend.
He said that although the country was far beyond the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Broadcast digital migration deadline, which passed in June 2015, the country’s broadcasting services is suffering from under-investment and aging infrastructure.
“Zimbabwe thus faces a four-fold bane of colonial legacy where communication infrastructure concentrated on zones of white settlements and or economic activities,” said Minister Khaya Moyo.
“The broadcasting services are contracting from under-investment in the broadcasting sector, aging infrastructure and technological obsolescence in the wake of new and efficient digital technologies.
“What may not be apparent at this stage is the fact that the recovery and performance of some of our parastatals hinge on the digitalisation project.”
Minister Khaya Moyo added that after the digitalisation programme is complete there is need to develop synergies between and among key parastatals in the ministry.
He also said key reforms have been completed at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and things are looking up starting with financials following the corporate issues raised by the KPMG audit report.
“It is true that the report (KPMG audit report) raised quite a number of corporate issues which needed urgent attention at the national broadcaster, the ZBC. But it is also true that key reforms have since been completed at the Corporation, which is why things are beginning to look up, starting with the financials.
“What needs emphasising is that the bulk of the recommendations of that report focused on the need to modernise the broadcast sector,” said Minister Moyo.
“Operations at the news agency NewZiana, have been constrained by old technological platforms of information delivery. What would be wrong is for Government to mindlessly dispose of these organisations merely acting on their present financial performance, without seeing bright prospects that lie ahead and come together with digitalisation.
“Investment into spatially spread, well-integrated digital broadcast infrastructure is sure to meet the key goal of universal access to information and stimulate a diversity of services to cater for choices of service for people.”
“Our budget proposal includes broad-based content production trust which cascade down to communities. This means investing in cameras, editing suites and other ancillary equipment in content production.
“Also to ensure decentralised, community-based approach to content production, a programme which will create millions of jobs amongst the youths who have been hit hardest by unemployment.
“Above all, we have an opportunity of turning Zimbabwe into a regional and continental content hub the way Nigeria is. There is a lot of foreign exchange to the got from the development of a vibrant and mature content industry.”
He said once the digitisation programme is complete, synergies between and among key parastatals falling under the Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry. “Already Kingstons has broadened its portfolio by investing in the broadcast sector. Similarly, Zimpapers has become a leader in the same that is going beyond its founding mission of newspaper publishing. Of course, in saying this, I am not underestimating key reforms that are needed especially at New Ziana and Kingstons,” he said.
He said once Government has completed the the initial infrastructure investment, signal carrier Transmedia is expected to ensure that the infrastructure is managed well, transformed and expanded where necessary. Minister Moyo said the media sector is undergoing dramatic changes with clear policy and legal implications.
“It would have been tragic if the ministry had rushed into law-making on the basis of time-based priorities and not on the thorough grasp of the full import of the seismic changes which technology has wrought on the sector. Already, many nations which moved on rapid law making processes are realising the insistent inadequacies of their efforts, however well meant.”