#Opinion: Kwese is Kwese Except in Zimbabwe

If there is a prophet that was never welcome in his home town, its Econet Media’s Kwese TV. It seems this biblical statement mentioned by Jesus keeps haunting Strive Masiyiwa who in 1998 had some tussles with government to become a licensed telecommunications operator.

Pardon me for being too religious, but the truth of the matter is that Strive Masiyiwa’s business ventures are an epitome and vivid resemblance of a  stone the builders rejected which have become a cornerstone elsewhere. Such is the case of Econet which is one of the major contributor to the country’s economy.

By Pearson Mbendera

Little did they know that despite getting licensed by government in 1998, another hurdle awaited them 19 years later.

Hellbent is the broadcasting regulator, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe which keeps on pursuing that Strive Masiyiwa’s media corporation should not broadcast or distribute its content in Zimbabwe.

The Kwese TV saga continues taking a rather expected twist that saw the company suspend its service in Zimbabwe following an application by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe. BAZ filed an application to the Supreme Court challenging the High Court ruling of Judge Charles Hungwe that had given Kwese TV a green light to operate in Zimbabwe. Now Kwese is Kwese except here in Zimbabwe, the country of birth for one Strive Masiyiwa the founder of Econet Media, Kwese TV’s parent company.

Kwese TV, through Dr Dish, its content distribution partner in Zimbabwe had won the High Court battle that came about after Kwese’s first introduction into the Zimbabwe market had been canceled by BAZ. Following the High Court ruling, Kwese had already connected over 24000 subscribers, who, as from midday Saturday are now without the much anticipated and affordable service they have already paid for.

 Why fight Kwese TV?

The irrationality of denying Kwese TV a licence and even fighting it after winning at the High court is mind boggling. Right now, Kwese is available in 20 countries excluding Zimbabwe, the country that is fighting tooth and nail to ensure that they don’t get a broadcasting licence.

It is ironic though, that Kwese, whose name means everywhere in the Shona language isn’t actually present in its home country, partly because of governments like that of Zimbabwe that makes it hard for businesses to operate by making it hard for them to get licences they so deserve.

It makes no sense to deny Kwese TV a  licence, considering that there is DSTV already offering a similar service, a point that prominent lawyer Mr. Tawanda Nyambirai,  has made clear one time too many.

Zimbabweans the real victims

Sure we can sympathize with Kwese TV and Dr Dish for they have parted ways with a lot of money to ensure that Kwese TV is available in Zimbabwe, but at the end of the day, Zimbabweans are the real victims of this saga.

ZBC the national broadcaster has failed to provide quality content to keep the people glued on their sets, forcing them to seek alternative sources, and with DSTV’s bouquets a little too expensive, Kwese TV’s affordable offering has offered a lifeline to the people of Zimbabwe, only to have that taken away from them.

It’s not just about an affordable service, Kwese TV has offered job opportunities to many unemployed Zimbabweans, people who will soon be unemployed should BAZ win the case. Forget that the government promised to create 2 million jobs.

Are the claims BAZ making valid?

While it’s easy to get to Kwese’s side, they certainly look like the aggrieved party and BAZ playing the bully instead of the regulator that they are, but one question I haven’t heard many ask is whether BAZ’s claims are valid in as much as this saga is concerned.

BAZ is arguing that Dr Dish didn’t properly amend its licence to be able to distribute Kwese TV content having originally acquired the license to distribute MYTV content.

While Kwese has taken upon itself to refund its subscribers, why can’t BAZ do the same and refund Dr Dish the license fees they have just paid.

Kwese is everywhere save for Zimbabwe.

Kwese is a Zimbabwean word meaning ‘Everywhere”. It is intriguing and ironic how linguistics are at play here considering Kwese’s are not found in the country where the company’s name was coined, and where its meaning seamlessly resonates with the locals.

The broadcasting newbie has been accepted with open arms in South Africa the home of its contender MultiChoice. The company first launched in Ghana this February with the country becoming the first in Africa to enjoy its services.

Kwese TV despite yearning to make an impact in its home country, launched in other African countries such as neighbouring Bostwana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya to mention but the few.

Marvelous Chibagidhi

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