By Tsepo Munkombwe
Victoria Falls, February 18, 2014 – Residents of Zimbabwe’s popular resort town are eagerly awaiting the licensing of their own local commercial radio station as well as a community radio station by the end of the year.
Mosi FM and Breeze FM are the two bidding applicants for the tourist attraction who recently submitted their applications to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) over their licensing as new commercial radio stations.
The successful bidder will be hitting the airwaves by mid-June.
Mosi is a short cut of the Victoria Falls’ traditional name Mosi oa tunya, literary meaning “smoke that thunders” while Breeze FM shares a similar name with one of neighbouring Zambia’s most successful local commercial radio station in the region beaming from the eastern border city of Chipata, which was founded by veteran journalist Michael Daka.
Business enterprises in Victoria Falls could not hide their joy at the prospect of having their own local radio station dedicated to the events and interests of the internationally acclaimed resort town.
“Our company needs to advertise the popular equipment and services we offer to the tourists and the respective charges and therefore the radio stations will be of great assistance. A radio station will be ideal to ease our burden through advertising,” said Sithabile Moyo, an accountant with Shearwater, specialising in rafting, boating and canoeing.
Most hotels and lodges also look forward to having a radio station that will give them a platform for expression for all the tourist organisations and their clients.
So far, residents of the resort town are only able to adequately access deputy Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira’s ZiFM in Zimbabwe with the clearest radio signals coming from Zambian radio stations, especially the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and the privately owned Zambezi FM, Sky FM with some parts of the town accessing Livingstone-based Mazabuka community radio station.
Hwange West constituency legislator Bekithemba Mpofu told Radio VOP that easily accessible radio stations will vigorously market Victoria Falls as a popular tourist attraction and profile different holiday activities offered in the town.
“Zimbabwean electronic media, especially radio and television stations are virtually non-existent in this important town because of poor reception to downright inaccessibility. But if one of the two applicants is awarded with a broadcasting license then all that is bound to change drastically,” said Mpofu.
The legislator went on to say the licenced local commercial radio station should, besides English, use all local languages of Nambya, Tonga, Nyanja and Ndebele, classified as official under the country’s new constitution, in order to accommodate the Zambians who have been providing them with information and entertainment through their radio stations across the border.
In addition to the local commercial radio station, the tourist attraction will also require a community radio station which would take care of local social and cultural needs not necessarily driven by profit.
In this regard, Mandiwanzira, in his World Radio Day speech last week said, “There is a difference between individuals who come together wanting a radio station. That should not be a community. You can’t be a community radio station when you are an individual.”
He stressed that every member of a community including chiefs and headmen should have a say in the community radio station.
The youths in Victoria Falls also lauded the move to licence a local radio station as they will have their music played on the local radio station.
“That will promote the talent we have around Chinotimba and Mkhosana because people think talent is only in Harare,” said one young man who refused to be identified.
Nokulunga Ndebele, a Safari Lodge marketing intern said; “a vibrant radio station will create job opportunities as all youths are venturing into tourism because of lack of variety. Radio and journalism will avail another career opportunity”.
Mpofu suggested that the licenced station should identify broadcast journalism talent within the town and its surroundings and train them before the licenses are issued because the residents will not accept outsiders running their stations.
Mosi FM and Breeze FM are among the 21 commercial radio stations out of the advertised 25 currently being adjudicated by BAZ.
Government expressed disappointment that strategic towns like Beitbridge and Bindura did not have any interested radio licence applicants mainly due to exorbitant application and annual licence costs.