AS the world gradually gets into the World Press Freedom Day celebration mood, it remains mind boggling and disturbing to note that Zimbabwe despite being a signatory to a number of globally recognized agreements which include the Windhoek declaration among a host of others, we still lag behind in terms of observing and respecting the right to freedom of the media.
On the print front, yes Zimbabwe has tried as evidenced by the plurality of newspapers even though there is room to do better. The economic challenges have seen a number newspapers closing down leaving only the strongest or those with massive government and donor funding remaining in the game.
It is by no doubt that Zimbabweans are fed up with the type and quality of programming that comes out on the national broadcaster ZBC TV. A walk or drive around the country’s communal and urban residential areas is evident that Zimbabweans detest their Television station as owning a Satellite Dish set has become more of a necessity than a luxury.
As an alternative, most Zimbabweans have moved to either free to air or pay TV facilities in a bid to escape from the now boring TV which spends 24 hours broadcasting tasteless programs. Even though a number of Zimbos still tune into ZBC to watch the 8:00PM News, a majority prefer watching news about Zimbabwe from other sources like BBC, ALJazeera, CNN and others.
According to the 2016 World Press Freedom index, Zimbabwe is ranked number 124 out of 180 countries with a 40.41 index.
It is pointless to protect an entity whose mindset and ideology does not serve the interests of the majority, give ZBC competition and it will also up its game.
As the Bible clearly states, “A Prophet is without honor in his own kingdom,” despite government denying Kwese an operating license last year, the Econet Media team is stopping at nothing in penetrating the global and regional market.
Government last year denied Strive Masiiwa’s Kwese TV an operating license under unclear circumstances. This was despite government initially allowing Kwese to screen its football content. The honeymoon only lasted for a week before the deal was cancelled and Kwese was sent packing.
If you have been following the news lately, Kwese is doing wonders in other African countries whose broadcasting environments are liberal. Protectionism is something that Zimbabwe doesn’t need at the moment.
It is pointless to protect a monopoly whose services have been rejected by the people, that is gross abuse of human rights.
Under the current scenario, it would only be noble to grant Kwese and operating license as this could serve the country millions of dollars they lose to monthly subscriptions on other pay TV platforms like Multichoice.
Indeed Zimbabwe has a reputation to protect and a heritage to safegurd but that’s no reason to expose millions of TV loving Zimbabweans to some lugubrious programming.
Government should swallow its pride and just accept the fact that the national broadcaster has failed to provide the necessary service to its people.