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Man challenges ZBC

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A man has made an application at the Harare Magistrates’ Court seeking leave to challenge through the Supreme Court, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation(ZBC)’s compulsory licencing of television sets, arguing that the move by the national broadcaster is unconstitutional.

The application was made by Bernard Wekare last Friday before magistrate Donald Ndirowei, in terms of Section 24 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

It was made after ZBC issued Wekare with summons to appear in court for contravening Section 38B as read with Section 38E of the Broadcasting Services Act, which criminalises one’s failure to obtain a television licence.

In his submissions through his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, Wekare said: “I now bring this application as a constitutional challenge as I contend that various of my rights under the Constitution of Zimbabwe are being violated by my being required paying for services that I neither desire nor want.”

He argued that a television set is no longer exclusively used “for the reception of a broadcasting service” in that it was capable for being used for a number of purposes such as watching personal videos and DVDs, listening to one’s choice of music and watching educational materials.

He said the compulsory payment of licence fees to ZBC under penalty of criminal prosecution constituted a compulsory acquisition of the licensee’s property in the form of money and it could not be deemed to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

Wekare said he accessed various religious programmes through DStv subscription, and as such was entitled to own a television set to enable him to watch programmes of his own choice which ZBC does not provide.

The State is expected to respond to the application on Thursday.

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