The Zimpapers board was yesterday quizzed by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) commissioners over governance and conflict of interest issues surrounding its application for a radio licence after it emerged the company’s chairperson, Dr Paul Chimedza, also chaired Transmedia, the company meant to provide a signal for the proposed station.
Another case of apparent conflict of interest in the Zimpapers application was the issue of one of the Zimpapers directors Delma Lupepe being a director of yet another company, Seddon Investments, that is among the 14 that have applied for the same licence.
BAZ commissioner Gwai Dube wanted to know how Lupepe, would handle issues in the event that both companies were granted radio licences.
“There is an issue of governance since you are chairman of Transmedia and Zimpapers,” noted BAZ chairman Dr Tafataona Mahosa.
Chimedza, however, said he saw no problem with him chairing the two boards arguing the companies would complement each other and create synergies.
On the issue of Lupepe’s double interests, Zimpapers board member Munyaradzi Kereke claimed Lupepe had resigned from Seddon Investments.
Commissioner Erica Mususa pressed Chimedza further, demanding to know how he would for example deal objectively with a hypothetical situation where Transmedia complain that Zimpapers had failed to pay for services. Chimedza said he would recuse himself.
The BAZ panel also expressed concern that by using Transmedia, Zimpapers’ proposed radio station would yet again fail to reach areas where Transmedia had previously failed to provide a signal.
Transmedia, the current signal provider for ZBH, is failing to cover many areas in Zimbabwe.
Chief Gambiza and Commissioner Mususa said many remote areas in the country had not been receiving radio coverage since independence and suggested it would be useless to give a licence to a company that would duplicate the national broadcaster, ZBC.
“Why should we give you a licence to simply duplicate what we already have?” asked Mususa.
Kereke and Chimedza however said Transmedia was failing to cover the whole country because of financial problems. They argued if Zimpapers paid for their service, the company would be able to expand its area of coverage resulting in the whole country receiving coverage.
Zimpapers was also taken to task over its failure to inform BAZ of the board decision to go into broadcasting as well as the company’s failure to divulge the names of people who would spearhead the project, unlike other applicants.
Zimpapers said the resolution was made and promised to make it available to BAZ. Zimpapers justified its decision not to reveal people who would lead the project saying they could not give anyone a contract before being given a licence.
Commissioner Chada was however not amused by the lack of information and said: “A public hearing is a self-promotion opportunity.
“You bring out your best. It’s like a menu; you don’t hide the ingredients and expect people to come to your restaurant.”