Maridadi says no radio station in Zimbabwe is making a profit


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HON. MARIDADI:  Thank you Mr. Speaker, I also wish to thank the mover of the motion, the Chairperson….. 

HON. HOLDER: On a point of order.  Mr. Speaker, I had seconded that motion, am I not supposed to debate first?

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MARUMAHOKO) The seconder is Hon. Maridadi as far as the records are saying here.

HON. HOLDER: He was not in the House Mr. Speaker but anyway, he can continue.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: You can still come after him.

HON. MARIDADI: Hon. Holder you can debate after me.  Thank you Mr. Speaker.  I would like to thank the mover, Hon. Dhewa, Portfolio Committee Chairperson.  It has taken a while for this report to be tabled before Parliament because some of the dates that are in that report have since passed.  Allow me to flag a few important issues that are raised in that report and also issues that are of concern to Zimbabwe.

Firstly, we have a number of independent radio stations but if you ask me how many we have in this country, I will tell you that we have got only three independent radio stations – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Members, can we lower our voices; we need to hear the debate that is going on?

HON. MARIDADI: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that essentially in Zimbabwe, we have got three independent radio stations.  The reason I am saying this is because radio stations are either owned by ZBC, AB Communications or by Zimpapers.  There is only one independent radio station that is owned by a Zimbabwean citizen, that is Skies Metro and the owners of Skies Metro also happens to be the owners of Breeze FM in Victoria Falls.  So, essentially we have four people that own all radio stations in Zimbabwe; AB Communications, ZBC, Zimpapers and the owners of Skies and Breeze FM.

One of the reasons why the uptake of independent radio stations has been low is because of the cost structure of setting up a radio station. One thing that adds up to the cost structure is the licence fee.  The fee that you must pay to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) for you to be able to get a licence for you to set up a radio station is very high.  Secondly, the equipment that you need to set up a radio station is important. If you fail to get an allocation of foreign currency from the Reserve Bank, it means you must source your foreign currency on the black market.  If you source your foreign currency on the black market, we know what happens.  You buy a dollar at a price of $2, you pay 2 dollar bond notes in order to get one United States dollar.  Also the equipment then pays duty, so that makes the cost structure of setting up a radio station very high. 

Having said that, we have countries and other jurisdictions like Kenya; Kenya probably has as many radio stations as there are suburbs in the country.  If this Portfolio Committee were to do recommendations for the country of Kenya, there are some things that they would not mention, like that the Minister should approach the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on behalf of radio stations in order to procure foreign currency.  We would never recommend that because there are so many radio stations in Kenya.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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