National Community Broadcasting Forum wants genuine community radios

By Nhau Mangirazi

HARARE – The newly formed National Community Broadcasting Forum (NCBF) has challenged government to licence genuine  community radio stations that will propel development in marginalized communities of the country.

NCBF released a statement on Thursday saying it welcomed the move to establish community radio stations although they remained suspicious on state sincerity in licensing genuine non partisan ones.

The statement said, “NCBF is happy to compliment genuine and honest government efforts in promoting a democratic and development oriented broadcasting media in Zimbabwe. The recent progress by government to engage communities with regards to the community radio development is well noted.

“While we all have reservations about the extent to which the government seem to want to be involved in the setting up of community radios or general media regulation, we recognize the fact that the government is responding positively to a call by citizens led by groups such as Amnesty International- Zimbabwe, MISA Zimbabwe, ZACRAS to recognize, respect, promote and license community radios following international standards. We also note the fact that the government is demonstrating its appreciation for the need to promote access to information and freedom of expression to communities,’’

Recent media reports had minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Honorable Monica Mutsvangwa in Shamva launching a Chewa community radio initiative.

But NBCF said, ‘‘The fact that government seems to be prioritizing marginalized rural communities such as Mbire, Shamva, Malipati, Mwenezi, Nyaminyami, Hurungwe, Kamativi among others, it is encouraging and imperative.

‘‘We believe just as the Sustainable Development Goal motto goes, ‘‘Leave no one behind’ that no one should remain excluded and out of the communication grid in Zimbabwe 40 years after attaining political independence. NCBF believes that promoting access to information and free expression are key to development that is inclusive and participatory,’

NCBF,chaired by Joel Zilala a creative artist called on inclusion of most needy people to accessing information platforms and principles of community broadcasting be respected and remain sacred namely community ownership, control, non-profit, and commitment to local development.

It called for democratic and participatory approach as opposed to a ‘parachute approach’’

‘‘The process must be open and never be politicized…but remain central to community development,’’ said the statement adding that they “are aware that some of the most needy communities have no adequate capacity to run and operate sustainable community radios, hence require government support in that regard.”

In conclusion NCBF said, “We stand ready and committed to assist our members and those outside our membership cluster so that they better deliver on their mandate,”

Early this month, Hurungwe Community Radio initiative was launched with thrust to safeguard Kore Kore culture and history for the benefit of future generations using radio as a living medium.

Board chairperson Zilala said, “We will strive to be identified as Kore-Kore people and help others understand our culture. We reached out each in our thrust for a community radio. We have the same vision that we hope will help our community be recognized of its potential,’

Goodlucky Kwaramba (Hurungwe Proportional Representative) welcomed the initiative’s drive to prop up Kore Kore culture and women rights.

Hon Kwaramba said, ‘Isu semadzimai teda kurukurudza hedu na abiyedu kana mave kutepfunyura meaning we are happy that you will host us as Kore Kore women for discussion about issues that affect girls and women,

Hurungwe is the country’s second largest district that is productive in farming, mining, eco-tourism among other sectors but has no media house.

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) is set to award both community and commercial licenses later this year and information minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa stressed the point at a recent strategic review workshop for her ministry.