13 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Baz Contests Kwese Ruling

Photo: The Financial Gazette
Kwese TV founder, Strive Masiyiwa (file photo).

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has approached the Supreme Court contesting a High Court decision allowing Econet Media Limited (Mauritius) to distribute Kwese TV satellite content to the Zimbabwean viewership. High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe last week delivered a judgment allowing the firm to provide the service pending confirmation of the provisional order.

He set aside an earlier decision by BAZ cancelling the content distribution licence awarded to Econet Media's partner Dr Dish (Pvt) Ltd.

Justice Hungwe allowed Dr Dish to enjoy the full benefits of its licence, pending finalisation of the main dispute.

Dissatisfied with the outcome, BAZ through its lawyers T.H Chitapi and Associates, on Monday filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court.

In the notice of appeal, the lawyers argued that the High Court had no jurisdiction to preside over the case.

"The High Court erred in not finding that its jurisdiction to deal with the application arising from the suspension or cancellation of a licence was ousted by Section 43(1) (e) of the Broadcasting Act," the lawyers argued.

BAZ also believes that the court erred in finding urgency in a matter that was far from being urgent.

The broadcasting authority contends that the High Court decision allowing Econet Media to operate without a proper amendment of Dr Dish's licence was improper.

The High Court, BAZ argued, grossly erred in failing to find that Dr Dish had a more efficacious alternative remedy provided in terms of Section 43 of the Broadcasting Act.

To that end, BAZ seeks an order quashing the High Court decision, with costs.

Dr Dish was in 2007 issued with a licence to specifically provide My TV channels to Zimbabwean viewers, but it struggled to pay the required fees for years.

It also reached a point of failing to provide the service, until BAZ issued a notice of intention to cancel the licence in October last year.

Last month, Dr Dish partnered Econet Media Limited (Mauritius) and paid all the outstanding fees, before notifying BAZ of its intention to add the Kwese TV channels to its list of content.

BAZ received the money, but went on to terminate the licence through a letter dated August 22 this year.

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