MISA Zimbabwe welcomes the licensing of the country’s first-ever three community radio stations as a step in the right direction towards opening up the broadcasting sector to new players.
This should go a long way in enhancing citizens’ right to access to information on socio-economic developments and issues of concern in their respective communities in the spirit of accountable and responsive governance.
The licensing of Mbembesi Development Trust, trading as, Ingqanga FM, Ntepe Manama Community Radio Trust, and Nyangani Community Radio Trust, trading as, Nyangani FM, is in line with the African Charter on Broadcasting’s three-tier broadcasting system.
The three-tier system comprises public, commercial and community broadcasting, that MISA Zimbabwe, together with the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), has incessantly been advocating for over the years in conformity with regional and international instruments that Zimbabwe is a party to.
In pushing for the licensing of community radio stations under its protracted Free the Airwaves Campaign, MISA Zimbabwe established preparatory Community Radio Initiatives throughout the country.
The newly licensed Ntepe Manama Community Radio Trust in Matabeleland South province is one such initiative.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) on 17 December 2020 announced the granting of the three community radio licences as well as two campus radio licences to the Midlands State University and University of Zimbabwe.
MISA Zimbabwe position
MISA Zimbabwe urges the newly licensed community radio stations to jealously guard and protect their editorial independence. In that regard, their editorial policies should be defined and underpinned in pursuit of an inclusive social development agenda.
Their programming should thus be, for-by-and about the community, as envisaged in terms of the African Charter on Broadcasting.
We urge BAZ to ensure that the Media Development Fund is channelled towards the viability and sustainability of community radio stations as they are the heartbeat of development and democracy at community and grassroots levels.
MISA Zimbabwe, therefore, reiterates its calls for BAZ to ensure diversity of views and ownership in the broadcasting sector.