WOMAN’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development deputy minister Fungai Jessie Majome has taken her fight against State broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) to the Constitutional Court (Concourt) challenging the latter’s demand for television and radio licence fees despite its alleged biased programming.
REPORT BY SENIOR COURT REPORTER
Majome was last year arrested for failing to produce a television licence and charged for contravening Section 356 (1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.
“I didn’t produce a licence at the police station and I won’t do so,” she said in her founding affidavit.
“I hasten to say that my non-
compliance with the aforementioned statute was indeed purposeful on my part, but it was not by no means wilful and contemptuous of the law.”
Majome said the law compelling people to pay television and radio licences infringed on their rights given that ZBC was partisan.
“The first respondent (ZBC) is openly biased towards Zanu PF party in its general reporting, news casting and general programming to the detriment of other bona fide political parties, particularly MDC-T of which I am a senior member,” she said.
“Quite clearly the first respondent does not provide the same public service for any other political party.
“In fact, the first respondent treats other political parties as if they do not exist at all, yet Zanu PF is only just another party which makes up the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and even polled fewer votes than MDC-T in the 2008 general elections.”
The legislator said by so doing, ZBC “impertinently disdained” the political views of at least half if not the majority of people in the country through its “heavily biased programming”.
Majome urged the Concourt to declare as unconstitutional Section 38 B2, 38C and 38 D1-4 of the Broadcasting Services Act and to declare that non-compliance with the said section does not constitute a criminal offence. She also urged the court to exercise its powers and permanently stay her prosecution over the non-payment of a television licence. Other respondents cited in the application are Media and Information minister Webster Shamu, Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana and the National Prosecuting Authority.