In 2004, The government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advanced funds for the state broadcaster (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Co-operation – ZBC) to refurbish its obsolete broadcasting equipment.
According to the agreement between the two countries, the equipment was to be supplied by an Iranian firm. But the broadcaster is now claiming that it was sold “defective” digital broadcasting equipment.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology revealed in its June report that ZBC has vowed not to service the loan after reimbursing only €300 000.
“To date ZBC still owes the Iranian company €5 million and is accruing interest,” the parliamentary report says.
The committee says ZBC is objecting to the quality of the equipment saying only one out of the three studios that were re-equipped by the Iranians is functional.??”There were indications that the (Iranian) company was not a well-known manufacturer of broadcasting equipment,” the report said.
ZBC argues that although its engineers were supposed to fly to Iran to inspect the equipment, and have its personnel trained prior to commissioning, as part of the original contractual agreement, that trip never materialised.
“As a result the broadcaster was not making use of most of the equipment. Furthermore, some of the equipment had broken down and, out of the three studios covered, only one is operational and the main news studio is partially operational”.
Iran has been one of the few countries outside Africa to have strong relations with Zimbabwe in recent years. President Robert Mugabe led a delegation on an official visit to the Islamic republic in November 2006.
The visit saw the signing of a string of agreements in energy cooperation and technology, and Mugabe hailed the agreements as proof of the “strength of our political and economic relations”.
In turn Ahmadinejad visited in 2010 and top of his agenda was outstanding loans.
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