It’s one thing ordinary people knowing that ZBC TV, the government owned television station in Zimbabwe, is bad. It is quite another when a government minister, and one that has been in charge of ZBC itself twice says it himself.
“ZBC-TV really sucks” said Jonathan Moyo today in a tweet today.
Moyo was commenting on the contentious issue of the new Strive Masiyiwa owned Kwese TV which was launched this past week and then discontinued literally the next day after the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe issued a statement saying it did not have a valid license.
In Zimbabwe currently, only 2 companies – the government owned ZBC, and Multichoice Zimbabwe which the government also owns a stake in – have licenses for television broadcasting.
Both options are not free but ZBC-TV, which has one channel only and which the government generally uses for political propaganda, is cheaper. But it’s not just the propaganda and poor content, the quality of the signal and programming is also really bad and this too is common knowledge in Zimbabwe. This is why Jonathan Moyo’s tweet is only surprising because it’s coming from government itself.
— Prof Jonathan Moyo (@ProfJNMoyo) August 26, 2017
It is especially surprising coming from Jonathan Moyo because he was Minister of Information and Publicity from 2000 to 2005. He is known for effecting some sweeping changes at ZBC in that time. He led the same ministry again from 2013 to 2015. Whatever things he did, or did not do, contributed to the state that ZBC-TV is in today.
Moyo’s comment, while not directly speaking in favour of Kwese TV, expresses the frustration that many people have. Zimbabweans have 2 choices – really bad TV on one hand, and on the other an expensive option that’s really just a monopoly. Does it therefore not make sense for government to actively promote the introduction of an alternative instead of actively hindering it?
Moyo’s comment follows a tweet by another Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, who said yesterday “Kwese TV is not a bad idea. Why should we continue to support DSTV?”
It may be that a part of government is warming up to letting Kwese TV operate, or it could just be that the two see a political opportunity in aligning themselves to a pro-Kwese TV position after seeing how much Zimbabweans were unamused by the blocking of the company.