Kwese License: When We Thought It Was Over, It May Just Have Started

Tinashe Nyahasha Avatar
Fayaz King, Econet CCO, Kwese Tv launch

So if you just want the current conclusion, here is it: Kwese is not currently licensed to operate in Zimbabwe.

Now, let’s backtrack a bit and bring you up to that conclusion.

At First

Econet Media (the Kwese guys) did not have a license to broadcast in Zimbabwe and did not really apply for one. Actually the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has to invite applicants to apply. However, Econet Media were clever, they partnered with someone else who had the required license: enter Dr Dish.

Dr Dish had a broadcasting license that they used before to bring MyTV Africa into Zimbabwe until MyTV Africa could not be in Zimbabwe anymore because of intellectual property constraints. The partnership between Kwese and Dr Dish was that Dr Dish would legally be the broadcasters and distributors of Kwese programming into Zimbabwe just as they were with MyTV Africa.

Armed with this agreement, Kwese came into Zim. Then they stopped:

BAZ Cancelled the License

The BAZ CEO wrote a letter that announced the cancellation of the Dr Dish License which Econet Media was riding on. This effectively stopped the Kwese roll out in its tracks even before there had been any real movement. The Econet Media/Dr Dish legal team led by Tawanda Nyambirai quickly went to court…

BAZ Could Not Do That…

Turned out BAZ did not have a board and had not had a board for a while. Now the law only allows the BAZ board to issue or revoke licenses and no one else. Not even the CEO of BAZ. Without a board therefore it meant that BAZ was not authorised to cancel Dr Dish’s license as they had.

Nyambirai and team did not struggle to win the case at the High Court. The verdict was Dr Dish was still licensed. Kwese immediately went on sale across the country. The Econet Media/Dr Dish partnership was working. Then BAZ made the last attempt:

BAZ Appealed

They appealed to the Supreme Court challenging the ruling of the High Court in favour of Dr Dish which effectively meant in favour of Kwese (Econet Media). This was frankly just a trick to frustrate Dr Dish and Kwese. The law is very clear on the awarding and cancellation of broadcasting licenses and BAZ could not really think they could win at the Supreme Court.

However, appealing was just enough in and of itself because when you appeal against a ruling, that ruling is automatically suspended. This meant that by law the cancellation of the Dr Dish license by BAZ would still stand until the appeal is heard by the Supreme Court.

Now Supreme Court hearings cannot be secured overnight. The process can take years. This would have meant Kwese would be not available in Zimbabwe for as long as the Supreme Court process would take. But then Nyambirai is experienced when it comes to legal battles…

BAZ Effectively Defeated

The Econet Media legal team went to the High Court and asked the court to allow them to keep operating even though the ruling that reversed the cancellation of the Dr Dish license was being challenged at the Supreme Court. Their position was obvious: BAZ was merely appealing not to win the appeal but to stop Dr Dish broadcast of Kwese through the appeal process itself.

The High Court decided not to allow the legal procedure to be manipulated into frustrating Dr Dish and Kwese. The court issued a special ruling which allowed Dr Dish to keep operating even though they were being challenged at the Supreme Court. Kwese went on sale again…

Then What Happened?

The Herald this morning reported that Econet Media had cut ties with Dr Dish. This was not the first time Techzim hearing of this. We are aware of this and are continuing with investigations. The question that comes out of this break up between Econet Media (Kwese) and their Zimbabwe broadcasting partner Dr Dish is a very important one: What license is Kwese using without Dr Dish?

Econet Media actually wrote to BAZ informing them that they were cutting ties with Dr Dish. They said because they had secured some kind of permit from the government. This is interesting because the Broadcasting Act mentions no other permits except a BAZ issued license. We need to read the ACT again, there could be a loophole somewhere.

Another interesting story would be why Econet Media and Dr Dish would be parting ways. The story is not as simple as reported so far. We will be giving you all the angles to it right here. We have and are reaching out to all the parties concerned: Econet Media (Kwese), Dr Dish, BAZ, Ministry of Information and some individuals who are in the midst of this.

During all the legal battle to broadcast Kwese, it was really apparent that Kwese’s fate was linked to the Dr Dish license. BAZ does not have a board yet which means no new license has been issued, besides, the licensing process is long and winding so cannot be achieved immediately after the board is eventually announced. This makes the story almost as entertaining as the content on Kwese itself…


  1. Clement Siby

    Talk about the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe. This is disappointing.

  2. Happy

    for someone who has lived in the diaspora for years and seen the way governments endorse entrepeneurship as building hub of economies and hence job creation, this is appalling for afrivan countries to portray such behaviour. Even deters new growing entrepreneurs like myself to believe in the African dream. What is the problem really, why should it be difficult for a company to have licence to operate when they are going to oay for the licences create jobs and boost an industry. Im very surprised why we should be in court for such matters
    Why not be in court over corruption or other matters? It hurts to see this i tell you. Africa is along way away from ever being very developed like first world nations. Until this mindset changes.

    1. JamesM

      Couldn’t agree more. A day or so ago Donald Trump described African countries as a certain type of ‘hole’. No African ever wants to hear that type of language especially from a US president. But them again lets not confirm such vitriol with the sort lunacy described by the article. In this day and age granting a broadcasting license should be a snap. Especially when granting one to a true ‘mwanawevhu’. Let’s hope this is a legacy of a past dispensation, and brand Ed sees the vision of a flexible regulatory system that doesn’t get in the way of investors prepared to gamble their money in our economy.


    Drama & more drama. I feel at the end of the day, this speaks to a conducive investor environment. We eagerly await your further investigations. Thanks for the vital update.

  4. Eileen B Zhou

    Fire the BAZ board Mr President and open the media open. I like ZBC but, DSTV needs competition. I find it dubious that BAZ can do something like that. Either that DSTV is behind this or it’s the leftover of G40 cabal. The courts have always been independent and well done to them.

    1. James Chikwanha

      But anyone ever heard about DSTV being licensed. Why not investigate when they were licensed to broadcast in Zimbabwe and proof of it. And to think we give preference to an American company over our own is mind boggling. Yes, DSTV in NOT South African. Let’s get it over with. Dr Dish’s problems with Econet Média sounds more like a commercial dispute. Surely they can go to arbitration. But KweseTV. Let them give DSTV hell. They took us for granted (and to the cleaners) for too long.

  5. Stephen

    Grabing kwese for my folks just for fun !!

  6. Simon Sithole

    Kwese is a Zimbabwean company, we must stop illtreating local investors. Kwese ngaipihwe license izvozvi.

  7. Disappointment

    The absurd minister of ict behind all this. He once said, at the beginning of 2017, that Masiyiwa wanted to do the trump in Zimbabwe. Mr prsident should just drop this fool. If Econet headquarters and all Econet operations were based here, we would be having very littlee off the cash shortages that we are crying aout to day. Let’s have order in our country and governent. Let’s have real ease of doing business; not personal wars against creative individuals by those who can olnly thrivwe via corruption and finding faults against the honest and the disciplioned.

  8. Nzara

    ZANU PF new one zvayakangofanana neyaMugabe. I think zvave kubuda pachena kuti takavharwa

  9. adonis chikandwa

    Strive hes trying to make something in Zimbabwe bt they are pulling him down…. Bcoz these past days the was an article saying he is a billionaire that’s y they are chasing him….. Nooo guys so we’re is the proof of doing business in Zimbabwe as our new president announced

  10. Nice

    It’s what I have been saying all this time… The real problem is Dr dish… They probably have connections secured as license fit speculative purposes… I agree with baz Econet should just post their dues….get their license and move on…Dr dish license should be cancelled …they can offer anything… And Econet just post and get over with it