ZACRAS statement on the licensing of community radio stations

The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) welcomes the licensing of eight additional community radio stations as this is a positive step towards the achievement of broadcasting diversity and plurality. 

In a press statement published on the 15th of September 2021,  the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) announced the licensing of Matobo Community Radio Trust, Ndau Community Radio Trust and Chimanimani Community Radio Trust.In addition,the following ZACRAS members were also awarded broadcasting licenses namely Twasumpuka Community Radio Trust, Radio Bukalanga (Pvt) Ltd, Vemuganga Community Radio Trust, Madziwa Community Radio Trust and Patsaka Nyaminyami Community Radio  Trust trading as Kasambabezi Fm.The latest development brings the total number of licensed community radio stations to 14.

Over the years, ZACRAS has been advocating for the licensing of community radio stations in Zimbabwe.We therefore commend the Government of Zimbabwe for taking evident measures towards ensuring brodcasting diversity and plurality in the sector.

The existance of a three-tier broadcasting system comprising of public, commercial and community broadcasting will go a long way in widening citizens’ information choices.The licensing of community radio stations will therefore enhance citizens’ access to information on socio-economic developments including fostering accountable and responsive governance.

Radio’s strategic role remains of paramount importance as witnessed by its role in aiding different sectors,Central Government included, in disaster mitigation,response and recovery. At a time that the world is battling with Covid 19, it is anticipated that the licensed stations will be a platform of fighting Covid 19 through access to information promotion. Furthermore,community radios will be local level avenues for promoting educational classes targeting especially marginalised and under represented communities who have limited access to the internet to conduct online lessons.

As licensed community radio stations are making plans to start broadcasting, it is important that stakeholders come in and render start up support to augment community resources so as to get the stations off the ground.

Once the community radios go on air,we urge them to adhere to the standards and principles of community broadcasting as set by organisations such as AMARC and UNESCO. ZACRAS therefore extends an invitation to the newly licensed stations wishing to join the Association so as to ensure a collective approach to community radio issues in Zimbabwe.

As ZACRAS, we urge Government to continue licensing more diverse players untill each and every district in Zimbabwe has its own community radio station.This will not only promote access to information but  also enhance free expression as envisioned in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

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