BAZ bans social media postings

via BAZ bans social media postings | The Zimbabwean 4 September 2014

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) on 2 September 2014 bizarrely banned recordings and social media postings of proceedings during public hearings in Zimbabwe’s second largest city of Bulawayo for prospective commercial radio station applicants Skyz Metro FM and Skies FM.

According to media reports, the ban was imposed by BAZ Chairperson Dr Tafataona Mahoso resulting in the police confiscating recorders belonging to journalists Lifaqane Nare and Mvelo Zondo. The recorders were subsequently returned to them at the end of the hearings.

Mahoso told the public that recordings and social media postings of proceedings of the hearing was not permitted.

MISA-Zimbabwe position

MISA-Zimbabwe condemns the ban as a serious violation of the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression and media freedom as well as citizens’ right to access to information as enshrined in Sections 61 and 62 of the Constitution.

What is even more shocking is the fact that the hearings in question are not closed sessions, but are being conducted in the public domain which gives the media every right to record and report on the proceedings in real time and in the public interest and public accountability.

Section 61 (1) stipulates that every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes-

(a) freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information.

The ban thus constitutes a serious infringement on media freedom given that some journalists work for news agencies and broadcasting stations which requires speed and accuracy in reporting events as they unfold to their various readers and audiences.

In turn, the readers and audiences have the constitutional right to share such information with whom they deem fit as long as that information does not, among other exemptions, incite violence, hatred, hate speech or malicious injury to a person’s reputation or dignity.

Meanwhile, Skyz Metro FM registered as Fair Talk Communications is a brainchild of Qhubani Moyo and renowned playwright, Cont Mhlanga. The station was represented by Qhubani Moyo who said that the aspiring station had conducted research which identified information gaps in the reportage of developments in Bulawayo by national commercial stations.

Skies FM Radio which is owned by Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Obert Mpofu, was represented by Netsai Gumede and veteran radio broadcaster, Ezra Tshisa Sibanda.

The station also has other veteran broadcasters on its board who include, Haile Velaphi Mlangeni. Their representatives emphasised the need for the use of Kalanga, Venda, isiNdebele and Tonga vernacular languages which are predominately spoken in the provinces of Matabeleland.