‘Wrong political attitude stalling community radio stations licensing’

via ‘Wrong political attitude stalling community radio stations licensing’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe May 29, 2015

AMNESTY International (AI) has singled out wrong political attitude towards community radio stations as the major factor which has stalled the licensing of the much-awaited radio stations in Zimbabwe.


In an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of the launch of a report Beyond Tokenism which highlights the need to have community radio stations in the country, Simeon Mawanza from AI said the partisan attitude was depriving different communities of the important vehicle for development.

He said there was need for the communities to rise up and demand their rights.

“The first important thing is to have a right political attitude towards community radio stations and the way they are perceived by those in authority,” Mawanza said.

“Community radio stations should be seen as a vehicle of empowerment for those in the community so that they take charge of their lives and enhance development processes within their communities.”

He said it was also a human right for communities to receive and impart information on their own.

“We believe that because of the partisan nature of viewing things in Zimbabwe, a golden opportunity to empower communities in Zimbabwe is being missed. We see that for 14 years, the Broadcasting Services Act has not been fully implemented,” Mawanza said.

He added that people should engage the government and “knock sense into authorities” over the importance of community radio stations.

The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations has been advocating for the licensing of the stations across the country.

Zvishavane-Ngezi MP John Holder, who is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Media, said community radios were an important vehicle for development and they should be licensed.

“I do believe in community radio stations. It’s important and when I was in Victoria Falls, I could actually hear a radio station in Livingstone, Zambia, and some of the stations are well run and interesting to listen to,” he said.

“It is important that when we have community radio stations you will be able to know what is taking place around your area and avoid suffering from what we call delayed action.”

Holder, however, said there was need to have an agreed definition of a community radio.

Lawyer Chris Mhike said it was important to align the legislation and ensure that hassles and technicalities were removed when it came to licensing community radio stations.

The report recommended that the government should repeal or amend sections of the Public Order and Security Act and other laws that place unnecessary restrictions on human rights defenders exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

The government was also urged to fully respect editorial and programming independence of community radio stations when they are established as well as supporting civic society organisations working to ensure that community radio initiatives get support.