Chief Justice Malaba this afternoon dismissed MISA Zimbabwe’s urgent chamber application after hearing it in his chambers. In the application filed at the Constitutional Court on 18 August 2018, MISA sought permission to live stream the election challenge hearing scheduled for 22 August 2018.
Presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), and the Judicial Service Commission opposed the application. All three parties argued that ZBC is capable of providing adequate live broadcasting services needed to cover tomorrow’s court case.
The court held that in its papers MISA failed to establish a case that justifies the use of live streaming services in addition to the traditional broadcasting services offered by the ZBC. The court further held that parties interested in broadcasting or streaming tomorrow’s proceedings must engage ZBC and acquire ZBC feed at rates determined by the broadcaster.
ZBC is reportedly selling access to its live feed for prices ranging from $4025.00 to $13,070.00. Those are the charges for access to a live social media stream for the duration of the court hearing and for television access for the duration of the court hearing respectively.
MISA Zimbabwe respectfully disagrees with the court’s ruling for three reasons. Firstly, this afternoon’s decision undermines efforts to establish media plurality in Zimbabwe by breaking ZBC’s monopoly in the Zimbabwean broadcasting landscape.
Secondly, only a few local media houses with an interest in broadcasting tomorrow’s hearing will be able to afford ZBC’s exorbitant access fees. Lastly, it is an established fact that social media now has a wider reach in Zimbabwe than traditional broadcasting methods.