from WELLINGTON TONI in Gweru
GWERU, (CAJ News) – THE government has barred community radio stations from broadcasting politics once licenced, something which goes against press freedom.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has been instructed to monitor activities of the community radio stations.
Mangwana revealed this at the World Radio Day celebrations in the Midlands provincial capital of Gweru.
“BAZ has been instructed to be monitoring community radios which would have been licensed.
“It is Government’s duty to make sure we help those community radios in terms of viability. However, Government will only help those who would have successfully obtained licences,’ he said.
Mangwana said Government was prioritising marginalised areas such as Binga and Beitbridge.
Government will also issue six television licences to independent players to improve diversity in information dissemination.
Mangwana said there were 40 community radio frequencies that were up for grabs.
He said the BAZ will soon invite applications for both television and community radio station licences.
“By the end of the year, in fact by August this year, our aim is to have at least six independent television channels. We are also availing six channels for the national broadcaster, ZBC, so all in all we will be having 12 television channels.
“The call out for applications will be announced soon. So, it is a challenge to ZBC, they have six channels and the onus is on them to produce enough content to feed into those channels,” Mangwana said.
Speaking at the same event, Minister of Information Monica Mutsvanga admitted they were yet to licence community radio stations, but all necessary laws have been put in place to ensure the process starts as early as next week.
“Our law envisages a three-tier broadcasting system. This incorporates public, commercial and community broadcasting.
“Currently, we have both public and commercial, but we are yet to license community broadcasters.
“Let me make this point clear, we are going to license community stations, we are about to license community radio stations.”
“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,” she said.
“Community radios will play a critical role. For this reason, there is no turning back on rolling out community stations.”
– CAJ News