Hopes high for Radio Chiyedza

The Catholic Church is optimistic that it will be able to launch a community radio station, Radio Chiyedza, before the end of the year to promote social dialogue, development and justice.

Fr Nigel Johnson
Fr Nigel Johnson

The radio will give communities a forum to express themselves and provide the listeners with an alternative voice. Community stations ‘narrow-cast’ to specific groups and are responsive to the community’s expressed needs and priorities.

The Director of Jesuit Communications, Gift Mambipiri, has high hopes that since Zanu (PF) is now firmly ensconced in government it will feel secure enough to open the airwaves for new players soon, and no longer threatened by people’s aspirations and alternative views.

Mambipiri said the community radio idea had been on the cards since 2004 and the church drew inspiration from the recent spirit of trust and goodwill shown by the new Zanu (PF) Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Jonathan Moyo.

The church would hold an all stakeholders meeting on October 31 to define the colours of the radio station.

Under the new plan, many voices from remote areas would have an opportunity to be heard. But all that depends on whether the government grants the station a licence, especially after Moyo hinted that space might only be available in 2015. The minister recently said there was a possibility for 40 more radio stations after the country had digitalised its radio frequencies by 2015.

Chiyedza community radio would provide a platform for dialogue to all those with ‘Ubuntu’ such as childrens’ homes and would focus on subjects such as allocation of resources, developmental issues, religious and moral issues and social justice.

However, Fr Nigel Johnson, an ardent advocate for community radios, was pessimistic about the project. He told The Zimbabwean that Zimbabwe’s frequency modulation facilities had room for a number of new broadcast players, but government lacked the willingness to accommodate alternative voices.

“Prospects for community radio in Zimbabwe remain impossible as the projects depend on the willingness of individuals in government such as Jonathan Moyo, George Charamba (permanent secretary in Moyo’s ministry) and Tafataona Mahoso, who chairs the Broadcasting Authority Zimbabwe,” he said.

Johnson vowed to continue fighting for liberalisation of airwaves, and said digitalisation would make things better since the FM with its current capacity could accommodate all interested new players.

He attributed official unwillingness to free the airwaves to fears of unleashing the expression of opinions critical of government shortcomings.

He attributed the survival of Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo over the last decade to its non-partisan stance and said Radio Chiyedza would be purely Catholic and had no political interests in order to maintain its credibility.

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