More licences for Zimbabwe community radio stations

eNCA Zimbabwe correspondent Pindai Dube reports. Courtesy of #DStv403

HARARE - Strict media laws in Zimbabwe made it one of few countries in the SADC region without a single community radio station in over 40 years since independence.

The government has finally licensed eight more community radio stations, in addition to the six licences it approved in December.

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The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations says it is delighted but at the same time, it is worried about political interference.

Last week, the Zimbabwe government, through the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, granted eight community radio stations licences, this brings the total number of licences to 14.

The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations, which has been lobbying for community radio licences for years, says it welcomes the move.

Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations Chair Perlagia Kapuya said, "we are really excited about this development that community radio stations have at least being licensed because its something that we have been advocating for a long time."

"Even if  Zimbabwe is a signatory to international protocols and international treaties and signatory to some of UN treaties and protocols we continued to being a country that had no community radio that had been licensed together with Swaziland in the region."

Kapuya says they do have some concerns, however.

"We are hoping there won't be any political interference in terms of dictating what should be  broadcasted and what  should not be broadcasted."

Veteran journalist and media analyst Tawanda Majoni, who is with the Information for Development Trust, has commented on the reason for the delay in community radio station licensing in Zimbabwe.

Majoni said, "I think what's most important at this particular moment is to ask the question why is it that there has been so much lethargy in licensing community radio stations. And the main reason is simple, it is because the conversation around community radio stations has been politicized."

"There has been this big suspicion within the incumbents that if community radio stations were to be licensed sufficiently across the country then that could change the social-political game."

Zimbabwe is one of the countries with the toughest media laws in Africa but when President Emmerson Mnangagwa came into power in 2017, he promised reforms.


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