via email Friday, 11 October 2013 Issue – 570
Hon. Jessie Majome, the MP for Harare West and the MDC Shadow Minister for Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has filed an application at the Constitutional Court citing the infringement of her rights in some sections of the Broadcasting Service Act.
The application was made after a licence inspector at the State broadcaster; the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) visited her residence and demanded proof of a television licence which she did not possess.
The inspector notified her that she was compelled to produce the licence at a police station within seven days in terms of Section 38D(2) of the Broadcasting Act.
In her application, Hon. Majome says that she did not produce the television licence at the police station and will not do so as she feels that this infringes on her constitutional rights and that is the reason that motivated her application.
“It is a notorious fact in the public domain that ZBC is not impartial in its dealings particularly regarding the coverage of events, positions and programmes of political parties operation in Zimbabwe on its television and radio stations,” Hon. Majome says in her application.
She says that ZBC’s bias towards Zanu PF is detriment of other bona fide political parties particularly the MDC of which she is a senior official.
“The evidence of 1st Respondent’s (ZBC) bias towards Zanu PF is overwhelming and self-evident to even the ordinary reasonable viewer. First Respondent is without doubt quite clearly a propaganda and advocacy tool for Zanu PF. It operates as a public mouthpiece for Zanu PF. Through various documentary, current affairs and news programmes 1st Respondent promotes Zanu PF’s political agenda with overt and covert messages that are quintessentially Zanu PF in content, ideology and form,” the application reads.
In the application she said that one ZBC reporter confided in her that ZBC reporters and sub editors are under instruction from the authority to keep focus on members of my party to absolute minimum on radio and television.
“1st Respondent is in flagrant violation of Section 56(3) which protects me from unfair discrimination of any kind including on the grounds of political affiliation. There a de facto ban in operation by 1st Respondent upon my office and person solely because of the political party I belong to. 1st Respondent’s policy and practice is crafted to discriminate unfairly against other political parties by excluding them from participating in the media,” says the application.
In seeking her relief from ZBC programming, Hon. Majome implores the court to order ZBC to encrypt its signal so that it is only received by those who wish to associate with the ZBC programming.