By Stephen Chadenga
Zimbabwe lacks plurality of voices in the broadcasting sector with the two recently licensed commercial radio stations — ZiFM Stereo and Star FM — serving as an extension of the State-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, MDC-T legislator and former broadcaster James Maridadi has said.
Speaking at a belated MISA-Zimbabwe-organised World Press Freedom Day celebrations in Gweru on Saturday, Maridadi, who is Mabvuku-Tafara MP and member of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, said the two radio stations did not fit into the category of independent commercial radio stations given their ownership structure and business model.
“If you ask me firstly as a practitioner, a journalist, broadcaster and Zimbabwean who listens to radio stations, I will tell you that ZiFM Stereo and Star FM are ZBC in another format, they are the same,” he said.
“If you look at their business model, it is the ZBC business model and when they read headlines of newspapers they deliberately choose those newspapers that are not critical to the status quo.”
Maridadi said Star FM was owned by Zimpapers which in turn was owned by government, while ZiFM Stereo is owned by Information Communication Technology and Courier Services minister and Zanu PF legislator Supa Mandiwanzira.
“I don’t see him (Mandiwanzira) biting the hand that feeds him because it is Zanu PF that gave him that licence,” Maridadi said.
He said the granting of a licence to ZiFM Stereo was flawed in that it was given to Mandiwanzira when he was Media, Information and Broadcasting Services deputy minister.
Maridadi said Mandiwanzira had made it clear during the adjudication process before the Zimbabwe Media Commission that if granted a radio licence, he was not going to run for public office, but went on to take oath as a Cabinet minister three months later.
“The law is very clear you cannot run a media house if you are Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister, it is clear as that,” Maridadi said.
He said the Broadcasting Services Act and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act were archaic and needed to be repealed. Maridadi said it was disheartening that to date the country had no community radio stations.
Source : The Newsday