MEDIA, Information and Broadcasting Services ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana last week came under parliamentary grilling over his request for $220 000 to be channelled towards national commemorations like Independence Day at a time the country was experiencing serious challenges like drug shortages.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
“In 2018, we budgeted for $220 000 for commemorations and obituaries whenever we lost a hero, and we used $158 000. We have retained the projection that this year we will need $220 000,” Mangwana said.
But Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media chairperson Prince Dubeko Sibanda shot down the proposal, saying priority should be given to critical areas like procurement of drugs, fuel and other necessities.
Mangwana, however, insisted that the commemorations were important.
He assured the committee that his ministry was committed to aligning media laws to the Constitution.
“That will need meeting with all stakeholders, the private media, the Media Institute of Southern Africa and others, and in order for us to get that, we should have a conversation. However, all that costs money. We intend to open up the airwaves by licensing more broadcasters, particularly for television and community radio stations,” Mangwana said.
He said the digitisation programme was a top priority in the 2019 budget, adding that it was not a luxury, but a must to ensure that it succeeded.
“We believe it is a travesty of justice that our country has one television channel. We need this project to run as soon as possible because it does not make logical sense for us to license new television stations when we are running on analogue and they need further transmitters and frequencies,” Mangwana said.
“The priority for our country is to complete this project and for us to do that, we need Parliament support to get the right allocation of $100 million.
[There was] $45 million allocated to digitisation, which means if 20 more transmitters for digitisation were installed throughout the country, it would require $42 million, and the lion’s share of the budget will be gobbled up by Transmedia and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), which are running the project.”
Transmedia chief executive officer Florence Sigudu-Matambo said they were in preliminary discussions with Econet Wireless for the acquisition of set-top boxes to complete the digitisation programme.
BAZ chief executive officer Obert Muganyura said approximately, 1,5 million set-top boxes would be needed for households to become digitised.