Villagers treasure Shortwave radio

It is almost 7 pm as a group of villagers in Sengwe rural under Chief Nyamhunga meet at Jokonia Mupemba’s homestead. The number swells to 15 as the clocks tick towards the hour. Here is a mixed group of teenagers, the middle aged and Mupemba in his early 70s.

As Voice of America’s Studio 7 reaches its listeners, the group has swelled to 20 and attentively they listen to Shona programme that lasts 30 minutes. They wait around until 8pm to tune into Radio Voice of the People for the evening programme’s Shona edition. Their thirst for news is quenched and they are happy to know the current affairs on health, politics, business, and challenges Zimbabweans are going through.

Mupemba explains that he went through the same thing at the height of the liberation war in late 70s, when villagers would tune into the Voice of Zimbabwe, featuring the likes of Webster Shamu now Minister of Information. Back then he was known as Charles Ndlovu – one of the radio announcers who motivated the war veterans from Mozambique. “We endured tough times as propaganda by the Ian Smith regime escalated against the liberators who were labelled “terrorists”. Now ZBC is still full of propaganda. We rely on these short wave stations to give us real news. We get more information from then in an hour than the whole day on the State broadcaster,” said Mupemba. “We are grateful that these radio stations are playing a critical role in Zimbabwe crisis,” he added.

The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, mandated to issue radio licenses, is accused of giving them to Zimpapers, Talk Radio and ABC Communications – all linked to Zanu (PF).

Misa Zimbabwe advocacy officer Thabani Moyo says, “There are no new voices in electronic media, it is like ZBC segmented into pockets to send the same Zanu (PF) messages”.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has admitted that there is need to free airwaves.

“On Thursday we celebrated Press Freedom day – but there is no such press freedom in the country,” he said last week.

Post published in: News

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