Parliamentarians speak on journalists’ welfare

By Memory Chamisa

THE welfare of journalists was topical in the National Assembly this Tuesday amid calls for the setting up of an employment national council for media personnel.

The welfare of journalists, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) legacy debt and opening of air waves, were some of the issues that ignited a fierce debate during this Tuesday’s National Assembly sitting.

Legislators raised concern on the lack of a national council for journalists and the state of ZBC.

Giving his response on the state of the media industry and ZBC, Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Honourable Kindness Paradza said the ministry is seized with ensuring journalists are capacitated to match international standards.

“The ministry has been seized with taking over the legacy debt of the national broadcasters’ ZBC. ZBC has been riddled with debts spanning over 20 years and this has resulted in it failing to carry out its programming as they’re incapacitated.

“Most of the equipment is now obsolete and needs to be replaced with the current trend on the market.

“On the issue of brown envelopes it’s you MPs who facilitate for that for you to be covered, if you do not give them bribes then there will not be any issue but it’s you who fuel that for prominence. Most media houses have been paying their employees well but there is need for a national council that I agree to ensure they’re protected and their welfare is taken care of,” he said.

Honourable Paradza also gave an update on the state of the digitalisation programme in the country.

“So far we have put up 18 out of 45 transmitters across the country which has improved transmission to some parts of the country that had never received signal for both radio and television. We have also received two million dollars from the ministry of Finance that we have used to buy set of boxes,” he said.

The second republic has opened up the airwaves, with six new television stations and several community radio stations having been granted operating licences.