THE state controlled commercial radio station, Star FM, has barred the broadcasting of the Election Resource Centre (ERC) program after fears that participants would attack local government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere and others.
ERC is an electoral rights lobby NGO headquartered in Harare.
The NGO has an election rights programme, called Communities in Action, which it runs on the Zimbabwe Newspapers Group owned radio station every Tuesday. ERC pays airtime for the weekly 30 minute long radio programme through its consultant, Urban Africa.
But according to a senior official with the NGO, Star FM scrapped them off air Tuesday evening.
“Programmes Manager, Napoleon Nyanhi, summoned our team to his office five minutes before going on air and communicated to us that our programme was not going ahead,” an ERC official told Newzimbabwe.
The Tawanda Chimhini-led NGO said they wanted to discuss the issues pertaining the affairs of the Gweru City council.
In the live phone-in radio program, ERC said both the Midlands capital’s suspended Mayor, Hamutendi Kombayi, and the chairperson of the commission running the affairs of Gweru, Sungai Mhangami were going to be contacted for their comments through the phone.
“Nyanhi told us that unless the two guests had been informed of the programme prior, Star FM was not going to give us our airtime.”
“We complied and informed both suspended Kombayi and Mhangami but Mhangami said he was not going to participate in the phone in programme accusing us of attacking him through the media,” he said.
The ERC official said Star FM proceeded to cancel the radio programme arguing that it was unfair for them to air the programme without the voice of the Gweru commission chairperson.
“He said using citizens and the suspended Gweru Mayor only in the programme would leave room for them to blast the Gweru Commission and by extension, the Minister of Local Government, Saviour Kasukuwere,” he said.
ERC director, Tawanda Chimhinhi said he was frustrated by the development.
“This is attempt by the state controlled radio station to protect public officials that are failing to respond to local governance issues affecting citizens. Public officials must accept that their role is a public one and public scrutiny is a legitimate consequence that comes with it. If citizens device mechanisms to force inaccessible public officials to account, it is their constitutional right and relevant authorities must comply,” he said.Advertisement
Star FM’s general manager, Comfort Mbofana, could not be reached for comment as his phone went unanswered.