Community radio speaks out

Despite being constantly denied broadcasting licences by the government, some community radio stations have found innovative ways to air their programmes. There are 19 community radio initiatives at the moment and most of these currently exist as committees. Four of the initiatives are already equipped, with two of them now ready to broadcast. Radio Dialogue, for example, has been producing programmes that are broadcast on shortwave for an hour.

Joseph Mututi, the chairperson of Radio Kwelaz.
Joseph Mututi, the chairperson of Radio Kwelaz.

Another three initiatives have been equipped by the Zimbabwe Media Institute of Southern Africa and the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations. These are Radio Kwelaz, Wezhira in Masvingo and Community Radio Harare.

The National Chairperson of Zacras, Gift Mambipiri, said his organisation and MISA had managed to empower local communities to own and control their local radio stations.

“We have been preparing local communities by running and managing community stations hoping that the government will one day free the airwaves,” said Mambipiri. However, he stressed that the community radio stations were owned and managed by the local community. The stations are supposed to tackle issues affecting their own communities.

Mambipiri said most of the radio initiatives had resorted to innovative means of broadcasting such as radio programmes on CDs and tapes, road shows, bulk sms and focus group discussions. This strategy has worked well in Kwekwe and Harare where the initiatives have partnered with local city councils to produce community-related programmes.

“In Kwekwe there are serious environmental and service delivery issues. Radio Kwelaz has therefore partnered with the Kwekwe city council to come up with radio programmes which discuss these challenges. We distribute our CDs in churches, kombis, schools and other social gatherings,” said Joseph Mututi, the chairperson of Radio Kwelaz.

Mututi said his committee also worked hand in hand with the councillors in the city’s 24 wards.

Community Radio Harare has a similar arrangement with the Harare City Council where the radio initiative distributes CDs on issues related to service delivery and good governance in all the city’s 44 wards.

ZACRAS and MISA are lobbying for the liberation of the country’s airwaves, so far without success.

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