By Costa Nkomo
THE Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) Friday applauded government for granting three community radios with licences to broadcast for the first time in post-independence Zimbabwe.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) board chairperson Charles Sibanda announced Thursday, permission to broadcast had been granted to The Mbembesi Development Trust, Ntepe Manama Community Radio Trust and Nyangani Community Radio Trust.
“The authority has completed the processing of the application for those areas with no competition namely, Manama, Mbembesi and Nyanga and wishes to advise that the three applicants have been awarded community radio services licences,” Sibanda said.
The new community radio stations have up to mid-2022 to roll out their plans and go on air as dictated by Broadcasting Services Act.
ZACRAS chairperson Perlagia Kapuya implored the government to allow the new community radio stations to advance local-centred issues without interfering with their editorial policies.
“While we remain alive to the fact that the three community radio stations are the first of the 10 community radios that are set to be licensed, we continue to entreat the government, through BAZ, to ensure that the broadcasting space is diversified in its entirety through the licensing of people-centred and community rooted community radios,” Kapuya said.
She added: “We urge the government to ensure that the new licensees get all the technical and start-up support that is needed to get the stations off the ground. ZACRAS stands ready to partner and offer any support that may be needed as the country transforms the broadcasting sector.
“As ZACRAS, we, however, believe that the success of these newly licensed community radio stations and campus radio stations will only be possible if they are allowed to independently function through ensuring that communities and students are given the full rights to own and run their stations devoid of any interference from any sector. This of course can only be possible if we all respect their editorial and programming independence.”
Community Radio Harare director Givemore Chipere, who flanked Kapuya at the press briefing castigated the government’s slow pace to licence more community radio stations saying the state must not be skeptical about the impact community radio stations will make in their respective communities.
“We are concerned at the pace the government takes to licence first community radios,” Chipere said.
“The government has to see community radios as partners not as adversaries. We are there to compliment government developmental efforts. We are there to give space to make their contributions and national development. We urge the government of the day not to be skeptical about the role the community radios want to play.”