Alternattiva Demokratika boycotts ‘Zimbabwe’ Broadcasting Authority debate

The Green Party is accusing the Broadcasting Authority of acting only in the interest of the Labour and Nationalist parties

Alternattiva Demokratika decry 'Zimbabwean' Broadcasting Authority
Alternattiva Demokratika decry 'Zimbabwean' Broadcasting Authority

Boycotting the Broadcasting Authority debate with the small political parties, Alternattiva Demokratika accused the Broadcasting Authority of resembling the authority of a country like Zimbabwe, due to its lack of impartiality and servility towards the country’s two big parties.

Speaking outside the Public Broadcasting Services building where a debate was being recorded other leaders of smaller parties contesting the election, AD chairperson Arnold Cassola criticised the BA for its decision to “scrap all three debates in which AD was involved with the Nationalist and Labour parties.

AD pulled out of the debate at the last minute, in protest of what it deems to be unfair treatment by the BA.

In addition to being omitted from the BA debate, AD is protesting the BA’s recommendation that the party be left out of the Xarabank debate last Friday, as well as the fact that the BA objected an AD candidate “appearing for ten minutes” on television programme Skjetti.

“It has not enforced the directive that AD candidates should appear on NET and ONE TV stations in political debates,” added Cassola.

“All this while the candidates on the PN and PL lists are given 24-hour exposure daily on these stations, and they even take the BA for a ride, by pretending to be guests rather than presenting the programmes themselves, which they do in reality.

Secretary General Ralph Cassar said that following last Friday’s Xarabank debate, the country had been left none the wiser.

“A slinging match from beginning to end; a tit for tat encounter in an effort to portray the other party as the murkier of the two,” he said.

He stressed that despite not being invited, AD had a lot to say, but that unfortunately “editorially the die had been cast”.

He insisted that the PL and PN did not want to debate with AD and that the BA was complicit in allowing this to happen.

“Appointed by the PL and PN equally, it serves to accommodate its political masters,” said Cassar. “To hell with anything associated with the right for the electorate to be fully informed.”

Furthermore, said Cassar, the BA found no problem with allowing the national broadcaster to “air snippets lifted from NET and ONE to be aired on PBS news”.

He insisted that both parties’ stations had a legal obligation to represent what AD and others had to say.

“As everybody can attest, AD is conspicuous by its absence on these stations. The law is broken and nothing happens.” he said.  

He said the BA was “notoriously toothless” in dealing with the two big parties but became “very categorical” when it dealt with AD, adding that the BA’s position as regards to AD was tantamount to apartheid.

“Of course, the PN, on its proverbial moral high horse as saviour of democracy, finds no problem playing ball,” he insisted.

“This is symptomatic of the institutional malaise that our country is afflicted by. It is this which is at the bottom of our country’s ills, not who governs.”

In a reaction, the Broadcasting Authority denied any allegation of censorship and unfair treatment levelled against it by AD.  "The Authority considers this attack unjust, and uncalled for, and insists that the protest is based on unfounded accusations," it said.

"The Broadcasting Authority reiterates that the time allotted to AD in its scheme of political broadcasts is in line with its regulations, and takes into account the prevalent circumstances.In relation to AD’s claims regarding its participation in Xarabank and Skjetti, the Authority, whilst rebutting any such claims, emphasizes the fact that it did not put forward any recommendation or objection in this regard."