David Masunda, the chairperson of the prospective broadcasting station of VOP FM, which participated in a public hearing on Thursday before the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), said in an interview after the hearing:
“We are Zimbabweans and we want to broadcast from within Zimbabwe. Yes we might be broadcasting from other countries on shortwave but its only two hours, that is one hour in the morning and another hour in the evening. If we are given the licence we will be broadcasting for 24 hours giving Zimbabwean citizens a chance to articulate issues that concern them. This will also give us a chance to bring to the people hard and real news because we will be having the reporters on the ground and enough time to probe issues. We have applied for this broadcasting licence because we are Zimbabweans…”
“We have also applied for this licence to show that we are a law abiding group of Zimbabweans who want to invest in their country, and nothing else.
“We have not only applied for this licence because the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which calls for all the radio stations broadcasting from outside the country, but we are following the laws of the country hence the application we are hearing today,” Masunda said.
Other prospective radio stations which appeared before the BAZ public hearing are: KISS FM, AB Communications and Zimpapers Talk Radio.
Masunda said VOP FM will strive to be objective in its news programming and will cover topics which have a bearing on the lives of all Zimbabweans.
“This is one of the reasons why we want a radio licence. We do not want people to discuss issues in corridors, corners, bars and churches and then feel that those issues cannot be discussed nationally. Our Talk radio programmes will be open to anybody who doesn’t have any malicious intent but who wants to seriously discuss issues and have their voices heard…we will be inviting experts in some of the issues,” he added.
In his presentation to BAZ, VOP FM Chief Executive Officer John Masuku said his radio programming which is 70% news and 30% music will be led by experience journalists and future star broadcasters.
“We have Millie Phiri who will be in charge of the news and Maria Nyanyiwa Mataruse responsible for programming. We will be having a team of compliant reporters on the ground that will be providing eye witness news. We also hope that by the recent indication by government to introduce community radio stations we will be ready to provide training to personnel from such community radio stations.
“In order to promote local and indigenous languages we are going to promote public speaking and writing in schools by sponsoring various competitions,” said Masuku.
If granted with a licence Masuku said within the first three months, the prospective radio station will install transmitters in Harare, Bulawayo and Masvingo that will feed other parts of the country and will commission a transmitter every six months in other parts of the country.
In 2002 unknown persons bombed the Voice of the People (VOP) Communications Trust offices which had been producing news since June 2000. In 2005 its offices in Harare’s CBD were raided by the police and its equipment confiscated while its staff were arrested. The board members later went to court in 2006 on charges of broadcasting illegally but the case was dismissed with a judge describing it as a ‘circus’.