INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo yesterday told Parliament that the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (Impi) headed by veteran journalist Geoffrey Nyarota was funded to the tune of $1,6 million by government and that team would soon embark on a regional tour to compare notes with other countries.
Addressing the Media, Information and Broadcasting Services portfolio committee, Moyo also confirmed that Impi members, who comprised mainly senior journalists and editors from both public and State media, were each getting a daily sitting allowance of $300.
“Impi is funded to the tune of $1,6 million from Treasury and members of the committee are getting a daily sitting allowance of $300,” he said.
He added the committee was only left to do a mop-up exercise and tour regional countries to exchange notes. The committee in the past two months crisscrossed the country gathering public views on the media.
“The committee has since completed gathering evidence locally and would soon embark on regional tours that will take them to Zambia, South Africa, Kenya and possibly Tanzania to learn from those countries’ experiences,” Moyo added.
The minister said the Impi report will be made public once it has been presented to his office.
Impi was lauched in March this year to inquire about the state of the media, media policies and welfare of practitioners, among other things.
Meanwhile, Moyo also told the committee the country could immediately raise $200 million to fund its digital broadcasting migration by auctioning part of its frequency spectrum to mobile phone operators.
Moyo’s comments came after Zimbabwe has missed the Sadc digitalisation deadline of August 2013 and the prospect of further missing the June 2015 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deadline with potential dire financial consequences.
Moyo told the committee the country needed $173 million for the digitalisation project and the money cannot be raised offshore because of the investors’ negative perception about the country.
“Digitalisation will create a digital dividend through the freeing of extra frequency spectrum that can be auctioned to mobile phone operators for a minimum of $200 million,” Moyo said.
“That would be good economics and the freed spectrum will be auctioned to current mobile players who want it or even a new player. It’s a matter of policy; if this is done we would get the money now.”
Moyo said the digitalisation programme will allow mobile phone operators to have the latest technology LTE which would allow them to offer more value added services like high speed Internet.