By Luke Tamborinyoka
The regime through the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe last week brew yet another shocker when it awarded six television licences to its surrogates in a desperate attempt to POLAD-ise Zimbabwe’s television sector.
POLAD is a grouping of pliant and captured political outfits that are purportedly in dialogue with Zanu PF when in actual fact Zanu PF is having a monologue because by speaking to political groups with which they are in agreement, the regime is basically speaking to itself.
Similarly, instead of creating diversity by awarding television licences to independent and diverse players, the regime has ensured its surrogates and the same players already operating in the print and broadcast media sectors are awarded the television licences.
In the week that the world lost a football legend called Diego Maradona, this illegitimate regime has done us a hand of God through this unbridled political chicanery that is simply a naked pretence at media reform.
At his inauguration after pilfering his way into office through the military’s condign power in 2017, ED promised to implement a comprehensive reform agenda, including media reforms. Many expected him to walk the talk by bringing truly diverse players and not these Zanu PF surrogates.
The man has shown he is not committed to any kind of reform, including media reforms. Mnangagwa is simply no reformer and as we have always said, there can’t be any reform when we have no reformers in this government!
Once again, the country’s military has shown its over-arching hand across the country’s body politic as it is deemed to be stakeholders in two of the six companies awarded television licences last week. The rest are simply the regime’s surrogates.
Yes, the television sector has yet again been militarised and propaganda bombs will rain from across the country’s television sector. The military has direct interest in Rusununguko Media, directly owned by the Ministry of Defence, which has been awarded a television licence probably in a bid to ensure our esteemed armed forces mount a propaganda coup this time around.
The sight of the November 2017 coup frontman Sibusiso Moyo as a news anchor on 15 November 2017 may have inspired our soldiers to naively assume they can now run a television station.
The military are also deemed to have interests in Fairtalk Communications, one of the companies awarded a television licence when they are already running Skyz Metro FM, a radio station based in the country’s second biggest city.
Other companies awarded television licences include my former work station, The Daily News , now fully captured by the regime to the extent that I am now embarrassed to be associated with it.
And we are told a Mnangagwa ally, Harare’s Minister of State Oliver Chidawu is now one of the shareholders of The Daily News ‘Jester Media (Pvt) Ltd, which will trade under the name 3K TV.
Indeed, it is no jest that Zanu PF’ s footprints are now all over this popular media house, once the cradle of audacious journalism in the country during our days.
The government-controlled Zimbabwe Newspapers, which already runs several newspaper titles and radio stations, was unsurprisingly awarded a television licence.
Channel Dzimbabwe, fronted by war veteran and former ZBC CEO Happison Muchechetere is also part of this despicable cast of Zanu PF apologists that were awarded television licences and will now masquerade as “independent” media players.
So much for this regime’s warped sense of diversity!
Serial bed-hopper and Zanu PF Goromonzi South constituency aspirant Sharon Mugabe fronts the Acacia Media group, yet another of the regime-linked companies awarded a television licence last week. It is equally predictable what Acacia Media Group will broadcast, given Sharon’s political credentials. Sharon is currently battling it out with Biata Nyamupinga for the top women’s post in the Zanu PF DCC elections in my rural home district of Goromonzi.
The licences could as well have been granted at Zanu PF headquarters and not by a highly regarded institution such as the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.
There is definitely no diversity in introducing more of the same. Indeed, sameness is not diversity and these Zanu PF-linked players awarded television licences are the true replica of the fawning broadcast journalism that we have endured under the monopoly of the ZBC.
Just as they have done with POLAD, the regime has created a Dzepfunde television broadcast sector with a penchant for soporific, subservient sunshine journalism.
The regime has simply granted itself television licences.
Yes, they are doing it unto themselves by promoting self-serving media outposts.
Put simply, it’s a crude form of informational masturbation in which this decrepit government has sought to do it to themselves for their own propaganda pleasure.
So much for the POLAD-isation of the country’s television sector. Military dictatorships falsely presume that by controlling the media they end up controlling the people which is the reason before every military coup soldiers first take over the country’s main radio and television stations.
In communication theory it’s called the magic bullet or the hypodermic syringe theory in which messages are treated as bullets that have an overwhelming effect on passive recipients.
Yet this is the brave new world and this military dictatorship has to read around the reception theory in communication studies, which rightly asserts that the reader or viewer is not a passive recipient of communication but is always an active player because meaning comes alive in his interaction with message. The human mind is not always susceptible to messages. In short, controlling the media does not always translate into controlling the people.
Well, maybe I am raising the communication tutelage bar too high for this naive military elite so desperate to stage yet another coup in the country’s media.
Mhofu , out!
Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa . He is an award-winning journalist who was once elected and served as the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
Tamborinyoka also served as spokesperson for almost 10 years to the country’s democracy icon , Morgan Tsvangirai , until the latter’s death in 2018.
He is an ardent political scientist who won the Book Prize for Best Student when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe . You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo .