By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Despite government’s assurance that there will be licensing of community radio stations soon, media stakeholders are not relenting to ensure that this will be attainable.
This was heard at a ‘Stakeholders Engagement on Community Broadcasting’ organised by Amnesty International and Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras) in the Capital on Friday which was attended by journalists ,the parliamentary portfolio committee on media, information and broadcasting service ,community radio initiatives and media reforms lobby groups .
Presenting at the event, executive director of Radio VOP John Masuku reflected on how impactful community radio stations would have been in the face of the recent Cyclone Idai and the mines disasters that rocked the country.
“I was just envisioning how Cyclone Idai , Kadoma mines disaster and the recent Matobo mine collapse would have been minimised if there were community radio stations in those affected areas,” reflected the veteran broadcaster.
Mr Masuku also implored journalists to appraise themselves with the there-tier broadcasting system so that they don’t misinform the public.
“My advice to the media practitioners is to be fully aware that the country currently does not have any community radio stations because this will enable them to inform the citizens accordingly, ”added Masuku.
His remarks comes in suggestions by some government officials that the community commercial radio stations in the mould of Diamond FM,Patsaka FM,Hevoi and Capitalk FM have already completed the internationally and regionally standard of a three-tier-broadcasting system which comprises of public, commercial and community .
According to Vivienne Marara, Zacras national coordinator, the lack of transparency by the government on key media policies casts doubt on government’s sincerity on delivering media reforms for community radio stations to operate.
“Government has made pronouncement that there will be licensing community radio station this year but there is absence of a clear time frame.
“Another ‘opaqueness’ has been on the frequencies available for community radio stations which if we are able to get such information we are then lobby from a well-informed position,” asserted Marara.
With regards to licensing of community radio stations , Amnesty International’s Research Consultant for Southern Africa Lloyd Kuvheya cited the inadequacies of the Broadcasting Services Act as a major impediment to the licensing of the sector.
“What I find retrogressive in the Broadcasting Services Act is Section 9 which speaks on applications for licensing being done upon invitation which means if the Broadcast Authority of Zimbabwe does not call for any there is no provision to compel it,” revealed Kuvheya.
Mutasa South legislator Regai Tsunga proposed a petition to push government to license community radio stations while Honourable Joana Mamombe hinted on using the women parliamentary caucus as a platform to mobilise to add more voices on the matter.