Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) and Amnesty International 2019 World Radio Day Statement.

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The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) and Amnesty International-Zimbabwe (AIZ) commemorate the 2019 edition of the World Radio Day with calls for government to urgently facilitate the licensing of community radios in Zimbabwe.

While the Government through the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has managed to license national and local commercial radio stations, the same has not happened with regards to community radio stations. As ZACRAS and AIZ, we believe that the absence of licensed community radio stations in Zimbabwe is inimical to democracy as it hinders marginalized communities from fully exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of expression and access to information.

Article 19 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights recognize the right of access to information as a universal human right. Additionally, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights as well as Sections 61 and 62 of our own Constitution of Zimbabwe provide for the right to freedom of expression and access to information respectively. As such, we believe that radio remains a strategic tool that promotes the enjoyment of these rights. In the same token, radio is a tool to facilitate dialogue for the promotion of peace and tolerance especially in a country with diverse cultures like Zimbabwe.

As Zimbabweans are making efforts to find lasting solutions to the country’s’ political, social and economic crisis, we are of the view that community radios are a platform through which the marginalized voices can find expression in the national conversation. Liberalized radio broadcasting services have the potential to revive the country’s socio-economic and political developmental thrust as the citizens make informed decisions and contribute towards the national debates.

We therefore urgently call for:

· The amendment of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) so that it is in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe,

· The setting up of a relevant board to facilitate the licensing of community radios,

· The drafting of democratic community radio regulations to guide the operations of the sector,

· The licensing of community radios in Zimbabwe.

The 2019 World Radio Day commemorations are being held under the theme- Radio: Dialogue, Peace and Tolerance.

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