Sentech’s move comes shortly before Zimbabwe’s election, leaving voters with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), the country’s state broadcaster, as the only source for information.
According to a report by Business Day Live, many citizens in Zimbabwe question the credibility of the ZBC due to its partisan broadcasting, which is in favour of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and president Robert Mugabe.
Furthermore Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, has been lobbying for media reforms in the country as well as an examination of the state broadcaster.
Douglas Mwonzora, spokesperson of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main opposition party, said yesterday the ZBC has become a “conveyor belt” of ZANU-PF propaganda.
Sentech was not the only signal carrier to stop broadcasting to Zimbabwe. Botswana Television (B-TV) and e.tv in South Africa previously cut the signal to Zimbabwe.
Trevor Maisiri, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, said the SABC likely cut the signal to Zimbabwe as a business decision.
“By default, Mr Mugabe is the biggest beneficiary in all this. It is most likely that those affected will have a choice to watch more of the ZBC, but whether they do that or not is unclear. What this simply emphasises is the need for state media to open up and allow plurality,” Business Day Live quoted Maisiri as saying.