He pleaded with critics to give him an opportunity to broadcast first.
Mandiwanzira, had to invoke personal achievements such as working for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the Doha-based Al Jazeera to prove his professionalism.
Critics such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) have described the granting of the two radio licences to Mandiwanzira and Zimpapers’ Zimpapers Talk radio as a “sham.”
For its part the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) party led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called it a “farce.” Tsvangirai is expected to put the issue on the table when he meets President Robert Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara for their weekly principals meeting Monday.
Critics say the two media outfits who have known Zanu PF links will struggle to be fair and offer diversity in their operations especially with a crucial elections on the cards next year although Minister of Finance Tendai Biti has so far ruled out the possibility of such an early election.
Responding to the criticism, Mandiwanzira said, “despite the criticism we are proud of our achievements and also proud of the developments that have happened in the country. We have written a piece of our own history by being the first private broadcaster to be licensed. Its remarkable and historic.”
Mandiwanzira said he does not want to discuss politics when asked what he makes of the barrage of criticism linking him to Zanu-PF.
“I do not want to talk politics because all Zimbabweans where given an opportunity to apply for these licences. In the wisdom of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) and that of Zimbabweans who participated in the public enquiries we were given the licence. Even other competitors have congratulated us and we can only say wait until we start broadcasting.”
He added that he will start preparations to take his radio station on air and is looking at doing so in six months time.
Since independence in 1980 the state owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has maintained a monopoly on the country’s airwaves. Several neighbouring countries particularly South Africa and Namibia which got their independence in the 1990s have digitalised their media world with South Africa even boosting of some of the world’s best and biggest media houses.