The Sunday Mail
Norman Muchemwa in GWERU
The Government is set to roll out community radio stations as the legal gap that existed has been closed, the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator, Hon Monica Mutsvangwa, said during World Radio Day commemorations Thursday at Civic Centre grounds here in Gweru.
This is after the law that sets the framework for the licensing authority to call out for applications was gazetted into law last week.
The commemorations, organised by the Midlands State University, were running under the theme: “Radio, Diversity and Development”.
The day, commemorated annually on February 13, was proclaimed by the United Nations through Unesco’s recommendations as it is on the same day that the United Nations radio was established in 1946.
The Minister said three-tier broadcasting is incomplete without community radios and the process is about to start.
“Our law envisages a three-tier broadcasting system. This incorporates public broadcasting, commercial broadcasting and community broadcasting,” she said.
“Currently, we have both the public and commercial broadcasting but we are yet to licence community broadcasters.
“Let me make this point clear, we are going to licence community stations, we are about to licence community radio stations.”
She added that licensing of community radio stations is in line with devolution, adding that access to information is key in development.
“We believe that everyone should have access to information. We realised that for everyone to participate in development, more so at devolved level, their voices should be heard.
“To develop at grassroots level, people should take pride in their communities and inculcate a sense of community that propels them to take ownership of their own development.
“It is here that that the community radio will play a critical role. For this reason, there is no turning back on rolling out community stations,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Speaking during the same occasion, Zimpapers group chief executive, Mr Pikirayi Deketeke, said the responsibility of Zimpapers is not profit-oriented but to tell the national agenda.
“We are a listed company and our responsibility is much bigger than making money and profits,” he said.
“Our responsibility is to serve the national agenda and to tell our story. This is our day all of us, we celebrate it because there is now diversity in the media industry.
“Our journey started eight years ago with Star FM radio and that motivated us and we came back with Diamond FM in Mutare.”
Previously marginalised societies like Binga and Kariba, he said, now have access to information through the establishment of Nyaminyami.
“After Diamond FM, we felt there was no access to information in places like Kariba and Binga and we went for a year and established Nyaminyami in Kariba with Tonga as the main language.
“We had a sister company, Kingstons, which was operating the two Nyaminyami and Capitalk radio and we now boast of four radio stations,” said Mr Deketeke.
Diamond FM, he added, played a major part during the Cyclone Idai disaster in Chimanimani and Chipinge in terms of mobilising resources for the victims.
Over and above that, he said, media houses have a mandate to create a media sector and create employment for students leaving university.