The Zimbabwean chapter of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe) has reservations on the proposed bundling of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
In a statement published on their website, MISA Zimbabwe said the Permanent Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services George Charamba’s sentiments on this move while speaking at the proposed Maphisa digital broadcasting transmission site last week fell short in explaining what the unified organisation would look like.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
“Meanwhile, Charamba did not go into detail on what the merged parastatal would look like in terms of its composition or roles as well as that of Transmedia, the signal carrier.
“He also did not give timelines on when the merger of BAZ and POTRAZ would be finalised.
“POTRAZ was established in terms of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, while BAZ was established in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act. Government will have to establish the new parastatal by an Act of Parliament. Government’s first option is to amend either of the two Acts which established POTRAZ and the BAZ to include the expanded roles of the merged parastatal. The second option is to come up with a new Act which establishes the merged parastatal,” said MISA Zimbabwe.
The media watchdog organisation called for a speedy digitisation process which is way past its deadline.
“MISA Zimbabwe is therefore appealing for the expeditious conclusion of the digitisation process, which is almost two years behind the ITU imposed deadline of 7 June 2015,” MISA Zimbabwe said. “It is MISA’s hope that digitisation will open up the broadcasting field to private players as well as community-based broadcasters. This will only be possible if Zimbabwean media laws and policies are amended in tandem with the media freedoms enshrined in the country’s 2013 constitution.”
MISA Zimbabwe however commended Government for coming up with this convergence of regulatory authorities.
“MISA Zimbabwe welcomes reports that the government has approved the merging of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).
“This announcement was made by the Permanent Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services George Charamba. He was speaking after an inspection of the proposed Maphisa digital broadcasting transmission site on 26 April 2018.
“Currently, BAZ is responsible mainly for broadcasting related affairs while POTRAZ is responsible for the administration of telecommunications and internet related services. The proposed parastatal will incorporate all the areas currently covered separately by POTRAZ and the BAZ.
“Advancements in technology mean that these previously distinct fields overlapped and thus no longer efficient to administer them separately,” said the media watchdog.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa last month announced the unification of BAZ and Potraz. Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said following Cabinet’s decision on State enterprises reform, government hoped to turnaround the fortunes of State enterprises that plunged the country into the economic abyss due to years of mismanagement.