Please switch off ZBC.

Television viewers pay licenses hoping to gain access to quality programming. Therefore the public broadcaster should not be a channel for vitriolic hate speech or political propaganda by a single party. It should rather be a source of information for all citizens, giving balanced airspace to all political parties. A national broadcaster which acts as a mouth-piece for a particular political party is not worthy of a dime from citizens.

Zimbabwe needs a public broadcaster that prioritises the public interest as it is a powerful tool of socialisation whose content impacts the views and perceptions of citizens, and in particular, moulding the minds of younger generations.Children should be allowed a more diverse viewing selection and not be circumstantially forced to watch programmes of a political nature.

ZBC argues that the mere fact that one has a television or radio in their car, home or office, suggests they have the potential to watch ZTV. Unfortunately potential does not necessarily transform into actual in Zimbabwe. How many times have we heard that Zimbabwe has the potential to restore its bread-basket status in the region and this does not translate because of policy gaps? I know for a fact that ZBC claims that its viewership has increased over the years. I don’t know their basis for claiming that, since they are the only licensed broadcaster, but they also need to do an assessment of how much money DSTV is making from the Zimbabwean market .

Political parties should be allowed to set up their own stations and control the content, which reminds one of the need to revisit the media laws in Zimbabwe. Anything short of that may call for the total closure of the national broadcaster.


Bernard Wekare: Zimbabwe’s Modern day Hero!

When we speak of heroes we all immediately think of superman, batman or cat woman. The heroes we saw on TV as children doing extraordinary things like lifting buildings or flying to rescue someone from a burning building. These are the heroes we knew, but as we grew older we found out that they don’t exist.

We learnt that we have everyday heroes; ordinary men and women who do extraordinary things for mankind. We have men and women who stand up to injustice and question draconian laws for the benefit of the people. One such man is Mr Bernard Wekare.

The injustice of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) is felt by all. ZBC has been compelling people to pay for a broadcasting licence, namely TV licence, radio licence and a car radio licence. They have been authorised to arrest anyone who does not comply. Mr Wekare was summoned to appear before the magistrate for contravening 38B as read with Section 38E of the Broadcasting Services Act (Chapter 12:06), which criminalises one’s failure to obtain a television licence.

He argued that a television set is no longer exclusively used “for the reception of a broadcasting service” in that it was capable for being used for a number of purposes such as watching personal videos and DVDs, listening to one’s choice of music and watching educational materials. He said the compulsory payment of licence fees to ZBC under penalty of criminal prosecution constituted a compulsory acquisition of the licensee’s property in the form of money and it could not be deemed to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.[1]

Mr Wekare has become a hero overnight, rightfully so, since most people do not watch ZBC. This is what a few people had to say on the Newsday website:

Kasiyincedenilendoda!(let us assist this man). He is our hero and freedom fighter!

These are the people we want viva the application viva!

Let’s start a Bernard Wekare support group. Can we immediately do a blog right now to have focus group discussions, demos, write ups etc? C’mon guys, we can do it.

You have my support too man. Take it up!! Who wants to pay to listen to Dead Bee See?

I would rather pay for this man’s legal costs than pay ZBC for a licence. Give us an account number please!!!!

The dictionary defines a hero as a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his deed and noble qualities.  In a country where there can be serious reprisals for challenging the status quo, where the court procedure can be prolonged, I say it’s pure heroism to take the propaganda machinery to court and choose to not support its cause.