The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), has demanded US$165 000 in order to give a live coverage of the MDC-T party’s manifesto launch by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera today.
REPORT BY MOSES CHIBAYA
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka said the premier had written to the broadcaster requesting coverage for their party event.
“Yesterday, we wrote to the ZBC in line with the new constitution and in the spirit of the ZEC regulations after we noted that they gave live coverage of [President Robert] Mugabe,” said Tamborinyoka.
Part of the MDC-T letter to ZBC reads: “We would hope that you would also attend our launch at Rudhaka Stadium on Sunday. You would also give us live coverage in the spirit of impartiality and fairness.”
But in response, ZBC sent a quotation of US$165 000 to cover the launch, said Tamborinyoka.
He said the premier turned down the quotation, arguing that the money that was being required did not meet the standards of ZBC.
“Thank you for responding to our invitation, however, your invoice quoted for US$165 000 as coverage fee is in our opinion not competitive and grossly unfair given that as a State broadcaster, the constitution requires that you give equal and fair coverage to all political players at this time of election campaigning,” wrote Tsvangirai to ZBC.
He added: “We do not believe that we are being treated fairly and equally with other players in particular Zanu PF as required by the constitution. We are aware that Zanu PF did not pay for the coverage of their campaign launch at Zimbabwe Grounds on Friday 5 July 2013.
“The action by the national broadcaster is unacceptable and totally deplorable, your attitude towards us and your expectation that we pay for live broadcasting grossly and negatively affects the impartiality and non-partisanship expected of a public broadcaster.”
Tamborinyoka said the attitude of ZBC showed the need of media reforms and would affect the freeness and fairness of the forthcoming election.
Meanwhile, thousands of Zimbabweans are expected to gather at Rudhaka Stadium to witness the launch being held under the theme Moving to More.
MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti said the event marks the beginning of real transformation in Zimbabwe.
“The event is a historic event which is going to set an agenda for action for real transformation in Zimbabwe. It’s going to be key, unlike the tired mortuary situations that we witnessed yesterday, we are going to see energy, we are going to see clarity, we are going to see commitment to delivery,” he said.
Biti predicted that Tsvangirai would garner 78 % of the Presidential vote.
The party’s national organising secretary, Nelson Chamisa said everything was now in place for the event.
“All roads lead to Rudhaka Stadium. We are ready for the occasion, our structures are rearing to go. We are on the move; we are moving to more; moving to more jobs; moving to more hospitals and moving to more opportunities,” he said.
Chamisa said thousands are expected to throng the stadium because “this is the launch; this is the beginning of a journey that will culminate in our president being crowned the Head of State”.