BY CHARLES LAITON
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has been taken to court by Blackbury Enterprises after the national broadcaster allegedly clandestinely sought to evict the company despite an agreement to operate a second television channel.
According to Blackbury through its managing director Richard Hondo, in 2009, ZBC and his company entered into a partnership to establish a second television channel, but was surprised on March 11, this year, when he was served with an eviction order to vacate Broadcasting Centre Pockets Hill, number 1 Northend Road in Highlands, Harare.
“This is an application for rescission of a default judgment, which was granted against the applicant (Blackbury Enterprises) on January 16, 2019, in case number HC10805/18,” he said.
“The order was served on the applicant on March 11, 2019. This is the day that the applicant became aware that there were proceedings for its eviction, which had resulted in a default judgment.
“The respondent (ZBC) issued summons out of this court on November 2, 2018, wherein it was seeking an order for the eviction of the applicant from its premises described as Broadcasting Centre Pockets Hill, No.1 Northend Road, Highlands, Harare.”
Hondo said when the matter was determined in his company’s absence; the court summons had not been served at his address, but had been served at number 41, Tunsgate Road, Mt. Pleasant. He said the address was previously under use by Blackbury Enterprises’ consultant at the time the company was being registered.
“The respondent is quite aware that this is the applicant’s business address as all the correspondence between respondent and applicant were directed to this address. I wish to state further that when the default judgment was served by respondent’s messenger, it was delivered to the applicant’s address at the Broadcasting Centre,” Hondo said.
Hondo said his firm had a strong defence against ZBC’s claim for eviction.
In line with clause 1,2 of the said agreement, his company was offered offices by ZBC and thereafter played its part by procuring the necessary broadcasting equipment, building a studio, providing the content to run on the station and providing engineering backup.
“I must indicate that the total investment made by the applicant in the partnership is in the sum of US$19 120 975,84, which is broken down as follows:
broadcasting equipment, PowerTel connection fee — Harare to Bulawayo Montrose, PowerTel monthly signal charges for 36 months, purchase and installation of transmitter at Montrose, purchase and installation of two e.tv decoders at Pockets Hill, purchase of content from e.tv for 72 months, ZBC offices renovations and burglar barring and purchase of aerials for viewers to access channel 2,” he said.
Hondo said there was also an understanding that the arrangement between the parties would remain in force until Blackbury Enterprises obtained its own broadcasting licence, adding that on May 4, 2015, his firm and ZBC had held a meeting where they agreed to suspend business operations pending the movement of ZBC from analogue to digitalisation.
The matter is still pending.