Baz, minister sued over radio licence


Community Radio Harare (Corah) has filed an urgent High Court application compelling the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) and the Minister of Information, Media and Publicity to issue it with a broadcasting licence.

In its application dated April 4 2011, Corah cites Baz as the first respondent, and Information, Media and Publicity minister Webster Shamu, who in his official capacity is responsible for the conduct of Baz, as the second respondent.

In the application, Corah notes that it wrote to Baz on September 28 2010, applying for a community radio broadcasting licence as well as notifying the authority of their state of readiness to broadcast once a licence was issued to them.

The application was subsequently declined on January 24 2011 on the grounds that there had been no call for licences as provided for under section 10 of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA).

The Act states that licence applications can only be received and processed after Baz has made an invitation for their submission.

Corah contends that by failing to call for community broadcasting licence applications since its inception, Baz was acting against the letter and spirit of the Act which, in Section 2A, aims among other things, to promote diversity in the broadcasting sector.

Corah argues that the failure by the licensing authority to carry out its duty to issue licences “. . . is on its own an illegality and must be justified”.

The application was made on behalf of Corah by Wellington Pasipanodya, a member of Media Institute of Southern Africa, and Zimbabwe’s Media Lawyers Network, with the support of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Both respondents are yet to file their responses.

Corah was formed by Harare residents in 2003, two years after the enactment of the BSA which created Baz as a licensing authority for the broadcasting sector.

The prospective community broadcaster was registered as a trust in 2006, and has developed all the structures required for community participation for programming and station management in terms of the law.

Over the years Corah has gained considerable support from Harare residents through its various outreach activities and says it is ready to broadcast any time should it be issued with a licence to do so.