Licencing framework will help grow media industry: Minister Muswere Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere

NRTV presenter Tendai Garwe had an interview with Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere (JM) on the show, “Yes Minister” on Sunday. The programme focuses on what will be happening in ministries. Here are the excerpts of the interview. Continued from yesterday

NRTV: Now it is mandatory for motorists to first purchase a radio licence before acquiring vehicle insurance cover. Can you explain further on that?

JM: The issue is in terms of the legislation. We are governed by the laws of Zimbabwe. The Broadcasting Services Act is very clear, in terms of the payment of the listener’s licence. It is also very clear, in terms of the definition of who is a dealer and who is not, who is a receiver and who is not. So what is taking place in terms of the approvals of the principles of the Broadcasting Services Act. What we are focusing on is the alignment of the legislation. This is precisely what we are focusing on.

NRTV: This legislation was not put in place before you opened up the airwaves for everybody to be a partaker.

JM: Yes, but I think your question is that you need to understand the differences amongst many licences. You have a public broadcaster. Its roles, its responsibility, its functions are totally different from a commercial broadcaster, totally different from a community (broadcaster).

Do we operate within a certain band in terms of the spectrum? Your DNA is commercial. It’s about money. The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has a different role. There’s a COVID-19 pandemic. It is the responsibility of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation to be able to inform all the people in Zimbabwe about a pandemic or an epidemic, to cover national heroes’ burials which are part of Zimbabwe’s heritage.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is obligated to cover Parliamentary proceedings and many other national interest issues. And commercial licences are defined in terms of their DNA.

Their interest is in terms of generating money commercially. But the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has got national responsibility. So that’s the difference.

NRTV: But we all are feeding into the same receiver?

JM: Are you feeding into the same? And also to highlight that within the same framework, the existing framework. It defines who is a receiver and what is an electromagnetic signal.

Who is a receiver and who is not? I’ll tell you there are so many legislative gaps that we have got to deal with to strengthen the legislation to ensure that there is viability of the national broadcaster.

We will do everything in our capacity also to support commercial radio stations. The first step in the New Dispensation was to open up, to liberalise the airwaves.

Any other challenge that related to tax issues, we have managed to solve that. To allow the robustness, the growth of the media industry. We’ve also working together with other members of the fourth estate including NRTV, to be able to come up with a framework, which we are now developing also to support the practitioners themselves through the establishment of a national employment council.

So we want the growth of the media industry. But we ought to define and to differentiate the roles, responsibilities and functions in terms of the licencing framework.

NRTV: As we sum up, what are some of your priorities not only as the ministry, but also as a Government spokesperson?

JM: This is also governed by the magnitude and the opportunities and the legislation, principally the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the legislation that governs the media industry and the people of Zimbabwe are of paramount importance.

And you know, with a national philosophy, that “Nyika Inovakwa nevene Vayo” that each and every Zimbabwean, through participation, through the development of a platform that allows citizens to be able to give feedback to the Government of Zimbabwe, about a number of policies, about a number of projects. So this is what would define our priorities.

What would define our priorities as well is the mission, the vision and the mandate of our ministry, but also the participants within the media industry because of importance is that we want to be able to support a vibrant media industry. We want to be able to ensure that there’s growth in terms of the media practitioners, in terms of their expertise, in terms of their ethics and the code of conduct.

But also to emphasise that one of the key priorities that is going to ensure fulfilment of the Constitution in terms of Section 61 and 62, developing and working together to amend legislation and also introducing new legislation that is going to support the media industry.

A policy direction in terms of the National Development Strategy1 and also of importance the technological sovereignty that we need as a country for us to be able to achieve that and to bridge that information gap.

And the launch of the second phase of the ZIMDigital project that will ensure total radio and television coverage across the country.

So we have the digital infrastructure master plan working together with the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services and the harmonisation of the policies, which also includes the new ICT Policy, the National Broadband Plan, and also the Smart Zimbabwe Master Plan, including the development that is currently taking place where we are focusing on a media policy that is inclusive and uses a stakeholders approach for us to get as much information and contributions to build a vibrant media industry.

But I can assure you that with your participation to tell the true Zimbabwean story with every media house generating and disseminating the correct story about Zimbabwe, this is the easiest job given the magnetic investment climate that has been created by the President, the liberalisation of the media industry, the diversity of the media industry.

Recently, we commissioned the 14th community radio station and the Ministry of ICT is also accelerating the deployment of community information centres.

So I believe that with the resilience of Zimbabweans, with the hard work of Zimbabweans, with contributions by all Zimbabweans and the participation of all Zimbabweans, we will make it because we believe in our national philosophy “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo”. And everyone has a role to play in the fourth industrial revolution because of citizen journalism.

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