New radio station for rural Zimbabwe communities

from TINO PEPUKAI in Chiredzi
COMMUNITIES in southeastern Zimbabwe are set to have a community radio station as part of plans by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime to liberalise the airwaves.

New radio station for VaTsonga people in Chiredz. On the photo is Khesani Kwinika at the Zi-FM Radio Station

The Tsakani community radio initiative, based in Chiredzi in the Masvingo Province, is ready to go on air pending a broadcasting licence.

Levison Chauke, Tsakani co-ordinator, said the organisation had consulted all stakeholders, including traditional leaders, to have a community radio in the area.

“We have done enough groundwork and we are just waiting for the government to grant us a broadcasting licence,” said Chauke.

“The community radio project has been received with joy and we are raring to go,” Chauke added.

He said the initiative would soon be registered as a trust.

Naison Chito, a Chiredzi businessman, welcomed the establishment of the station.

“We want to hear and discuss our own issues on this community radio,” Chito said.

“We have several issues that are not covered by the main broadcasters hence we feel the idea of a community radio has been long overdue.”

Claudius Dube, a fruit vendor in Chiredzi, also welcomed the initiative.

“We have to discuss our own issues in our own language,” he said.

The local population is largely VaTsonga, commonly known as Shangaan.

Shadreck Lisenga of Chilonga communal lands said they had a unique culture, hence they needed to discuss and air their cultural views through the envisaged community radio.

Once granted a license, the radio station will broadcast most of its programmes in Tsonga ‘Shangaan’.

Kudzai Kwangwari, Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) programmes manager, said the association has managed to establish some 22 stations in the country, with most waiting to be granted broadcasting licenses.

“We have capacitated several community radio initiatives in the country and most of them are ready to go on air,” said Kwangwari.

“We believe in media diversity and above all, we believe that the country’s airwaves should be liberalised to allow private players who are not in any way linked to the government,” Kwangwari said.

Chiredzi district lags behind in terms of free flow of information since the area does not receive broadcasting signals of the country’s public broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC).

The district relies on radio stations across the border in South Africa.

“The government should just play its role through the provision of enabling
framework for community radios to operate. There should be plurality and diversity in the broadcasting sector,” Kwangwari said.

The government of President Mnangagwa has pledged to liberalise the
airwaves before the end of this year.

Monica Mutsvangwa, Minister of Media Information and Broadcasting Services, said bringing on board community radios was her priority since she assumed office last year.

“When I was appointed minister, my first point of entry was to meet all media players in the country,” Mutsvangwa said.

She said the government would not renege from its promise to licence community radios.

“We are currently drafting a community radio operating framework as well as coming up with proper legislation,” the minister said.

Zimbabwe and Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, are the only countries in the Southern Africa region without community radio stations on air.

– CAJ News

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