Parly committees resume business

Parliamentary portfolio committees resumed business yesterday with issues surrounding the Asiagate saga, issuance of broadcasting licences to private players and power supply shortages set to take centre stage during the current session.

Parliament’s portfolio and thematic committees were adjourned last March to this week to allow MPs time off for Independence and Easter holidays.

Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma is one of those lined up to appear before the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security to speak on the provision of electricity to wheat farmers by power utility Zesa.

Mangoma recently told the Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee that Zesa was owed thousands of dollars by farmers, most of them politicians throughout the country.

Zanu PF-aligned AB Communications and Zimpapers Talk Radio, who were recently awarded broadcasting licences will on Thursday be quizzed by the Media, Information and Communication Technology Portfolio Committee chaired by Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya on their preparedness to start broadcasting.

Chikwinya confirmed the scheduled meeting yesterday adding: “The committee resolved to receive oral evidence from the shortlisted players in the broadcasting industry — both those who were awarded licences and those who did not manage to be awarded.

“We need to understand the editorial policy of those who were awarded the licences and when they will be on air, as well as how diverse they intend to operate as compared to the current status quo and also how they intend to assist government in achieving media plurality.”

Chikwinya said media houses that failed to get the licences would also be granted a chance to air their views so that Parliament could see how best they could be assisted to realign their applications to the dictates of the application requirements.

“It is Parliament’s belief that BAZ (Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe)’s mandate is not to bar any applicants, but to assist all interested parties to apply in accordance with the law so that they become licensed,” he said.

The “Asiagate” investigations will see the Zimbabwe Sports Writers’ Association, Zimbabwe Soccer Supporters’ Association and the Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe being quizzed by the Education, Sport and Culture Committee on issues surrounding match-fixing.

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