Ray Bande Senior Reporter
The new community radio station in Chimanimani reaffirms Government’s determination to open the media space and enhance freedom of expression, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said yesterday at the handover of donated broadcasting equipment.
The equipment was donated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to one of the 14 licensed community radio stations, the one based in Chimanimani.
Minister Mutsvangwa said in the past 12 months, the Government has made “tremendous progress” in realigning the legal and regulatory framework with constitutional provisions on the right of citizens to information and freedom of expression through the repeal of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
Government, she added, has since enacted the Freedom of Information Act and the Zimbabwe Media Commission Act, which together provide the legal framework to realise the rights of freedom of communication enshrined in the Constitution.
“The importance of building a knowledgeable and well informed citizenry needs not be emphasised.
“Our focus as the nation of Zimbabwe this year has been in laying the requisite infrastructural spinal cord as well as a policy and regulatory framework to enable unimpeded access and enjoyment of citizens’ right to know.
“The event here is yet another milestone which reaffirms Government’s commitment to enhance freedom of expression,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She said the establishment of community radio stations will go a long way in addressing communication challenges during emergencies such as floods.
“The natural disaster-ravaged Chimanimani left scars, both physical and emotional, that continue to haunt people to this day.
“It calls for an efficient national communication system to best manage the negative and most deleterious effects of such natural disasters.
“The availability of a community radio station in this part of the country will go a long way in enhancing early warning systems against destructive natural phenomena such as we experienced with Cyclone Idai,” she said.
Speaking during the same function, Chimanimani District Administrator Mr Joseph Manyurapasi said the broadcasting equipment gives an opportunity for the district to showcase its endowments. The equipment will empower the community.
“This equipment will add to our information infrastructure in the district. As we know, we are in the information era and to have information is to be empowered. This equipment will go a long way in empowering the people of Chimanimani as the community radio will facilitate people to have access to information that relates to their needs in the district.
“In addition, it is an opportunity for the district to showcase its endowments through use of this communication media platform and thus appealing to the local and international markets in relation to the investment opportunities in the district.
“As a district that previously experienced natural disasters, the installation of this radio station for the community will instil positive thinking, positive attitudes and optimism among our communities by broadcasting information that will reorient people away from the traumas caused by natural calamities.
“This is essential for people to recover psychologically and for socio-economic development,” said Mr Manyurapasi.
Apart from handover of community radio equipment, there were other events in Chimanimani that included the International Day of Universal Access to Information as well as the launch of the Information For All Programme, which took place.
Several of those involved in information communication technology and media industries were present.