By Staff Reporter
THE government is not prepared to license community radio stations because it is afraid of the people, says Community Radio Harare Director Givemore Chipere.
Chipere told NewZimbabwe.com on the side-lines of the launch of the Advocating for Community Radio Licensing Project in Harare that government was pretending not to know what community radios were and was setting up its own stations which it was mischievously calling community stations when it knew they were not.
“Governments that are not open to society can be afraid of community radio, they don’t want citizens to speak out their concerns and they pretend as if they don’t know what community radio is,” he said.
Chipere said it was unfortunate that authorities did not realize that community radio stations could work to their advantage as they presented a platform for communities to tell the government what they wanted.
“Development requires engagement of the people to understand their needs and community radio provides that platform.
“They can help government know what the people want; dams, roads and other needs because they give villagers the chance to express issues of interest or disinterest,” he said, adding that good relations are created when people speak up rather than have them bottling up issues.
The Harare administration is being secretive about the radio frequencies available in the country which are being underutilized because of the authorities’ reluctance to licence community radio stations,
Chipere said the non-awarding of licenses to the more than 30 community radio stations in the country had nothing to do with frequencies as the country had enough to cater for more than 100 stations.
“Pointers are that the frequencies are there for all the radio stations that want to broadcast but they are not being utilized.
“Government’s digitization programme has been secretive, and they have not said anything about the frequencies we have and how many we have used,” he said.