BAZ & POTRAZ merger delayed because ICT & Information Ministries are at odds

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar

The merger of the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) is being delayed by Government indecisiveness.

In the 2020 mid-term budget review, under the section reporting on “Progress on State Enterprises and Parastatals Reforms”, the merger between BAZ & POTRAZ is addressed albeit briefly;

The merger between BAZ & POTRAZ had not materialised due to diverging views of the respective Ministries in as far as the merger is concerned. Hence there is no progress with regards to the merger of the two regulators.

This simply means the Ministry of ICT and the Ministry of Information are failing to agree on how a merger should be structured and thus since this was proposed there has been no progress.

At the time of the announcement we thought this merger was a great idea, with one of our writers back then raising the following points;

  • Telcos adopting the TMT (Technology, Media, and Telecom) business model would be well placed being under the regulation of both BAZ (Media side of things) and POTRAZ (Telecoms side of things).

Since then, all telecoms players except for TelOne have shelved or stopped placing much attention on their media side of operations, which weakens the point we were making back then.

Additionally, given that POTRAZ might take up the role of Data protection authority and National Cyber Security Centre the merger does seem like one that will make for one organisation that centralises state’s power extremely.

Outside of democratic concerns would it make sense to have one organisation that takes care of the following;

  • National Cybersecurity;
  • Data protection;
  • Telecommunications licencing and regulation;
  • Radio & TV licencing and regulation;
  • Postal regulation.

Seems like an awful lot of different functions. What would be this organisations core function given the above mandates? Given that the merger has failed to materialise after all this time it’s worth considering if it even makes sense in the current Zim context compared to when it was proposed 2 years ago.

What’s your take?

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