By NQOBANI NDLOVU
A HWANGE community radio initiative has dragged the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) to the Administrative Court challenging its decision to deny it a licence in the wildlife and coal rich-district.
Hwange FM1 filed its court challenge on Monday through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).
In 2020, Baz invited applications for 10 community radio stations, 19 campus radio stations and six TV stations in a bid to open up the broadcasting sector that has been dominated by State-owned stations.
However, Hwange FM1 was denied an operating licence, prompting it to seek recourse at the courts.
“In Matabeleland North province and on behalf of Hwange FM1, we have filed an application at the Administrative Court appealing against Baz’s refusal to grant a community radio licence to Hwange FM1,” the ZLHR said in a
“In denying Hwange FM1 the licence, Baz on March 12, said it received two competing applications for Hwange and Victoria Falls and was not convinced of Hwange FM1’s community interest for both Hwange and Victoria Falls.
“In its application, Hwange FM1 represented by ZLHR lawyers wants the Administrative Court to rule that Baz misdirected itself in refusing to grant it a community radio licence.”
Baz is yet to lodge its response pending a set-down.
Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras) has been advocating for the licensing of more community radio stations in line with the African Charter on broadcasting’s three-tier system.
The three-tier system comprises public, commercial and community broadcasting.
In 2020, Baz awarded three community radio licences to Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Trust, Mbembesi Development Trust and Nyangani Community Radio Trust.
In March this year, three more community radio licences were awarded to Shashe Community Radio Broadcasting Association which covers Beitbridge and Shashe, Chiredzi Rural Communities Development Initiative Trust trading as Avuxeni FM which covers Chikombedzi, Chiredzi, and Rutenga.
Baz also awarded campus broadcasting licences to the National University of Science and Technology, Lupane State University, Great Zimbabwe University, University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University, and Harare Polytechnic College.