Community Radio In Waiting In Fear After Police Visit

MISA Matabeleland South Provincial Advocacy Committee Chairperson Mvelo Zondo confirmed that police visited his home to question him on the objectives of Ntepe Community Radio Initiative which runs its programmes through pre- recorded compact discs and pamphlets.

“I was visited by two officers from Law and Order ZRP Gwanda who wanted to know the agenda and objectives of Ntepe Community Radio,” said Zondo.

The police allege the station was set up to impart unfavourable information about President Mugabe and his ZANU PF to the advantage of the MDC formations.

However Zondo denied the allegations as unfounded saying the community radio initiative was for developmental issues.

“Ntepe community radio is non-profit making, it is the peoples initiative hence it is apolitical it has nothing to do with party politics and nothing will stop us from doing developmental duties,” said Zondo.

The state controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation had maintained a monopoly in the broadcasting industry, which is controlled by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) before the broadcasting authority, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), licensed two players in January amidst criticisms. BAZ licensed two commercial radio licenses to ABC Communications owned by Supa Mandiwanzira who is perceived to be a Zanu (PF) supporter and the state-owned Zimpapers which publishes a number of newspapers in Zimbabwe including dailies, The Herald and The Chronicle. 

The two are yet to start operations although Zimpapers’ Talk Radio is said to have advertised for staff positions for the new radio station. Two companies denied licences, Kiss FM and Vox Media have approached the courts to protest why BAZ failed to issue them licences.

Analysts say the slow pace in opening up the airwaves is meant to scuttle information perceived to be unpalatable to Mugabe and his party. Last year police in Collen Bawn, 20km south of Gwanda town shocked residents when they went around confiscating  solar powered shortwave radios alleging the gadgets peddled falsehoods.