Radio is not only a conduit for delivering news and entertainment, but is also a powerful tool for critical reflections and debates in response to disasters and emergencies which affect development of communities at every level. Despite widespread advances in technology, radio still responds to the socio-economic needs of our time and also encourages debate on the geopolitics of the 21st Century particularly climate change and its disastrous impact on Zimbabwe and the rest of the world.
It is with the above in mind that the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) together with other communities of the world, commemorate World Radio Day on the 13th of February 2016 under the theme â€śRadio in times of Emergency and Disasterâ€ť.
Presently, a number of communities in Zimbabwe in the Masvingo and Matabeleland Provinces have been affected by the El Nino induced drought whose negative impact has not only been felt in Zimbabwe but also a number of Southern African Countries. In turn, the President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe has declared the 2015-2016 agricultural season a state of disaster. This has therefore seen Government through the Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, appealing for $1,5billion so as to mitigate the impact of the drought.
In light of the above, the theme for this yearâ€™s commemorations comes at an opportune time as it highlights the role of radio in disaster mitigation and mobilising aid for survivors of natural and human induced disasters.
On the occasion of the 2016 World Radio Day, in addition to celebrating the power of radio, ZACRAS would like to reiterate the call for the Government of Zimbabwe to license community radios.
ZACRAS reaffirms its commitment to contribute towards the realisation of broadcasting diversity and pluralism in Zimbabwe to enable communities to access information and freely express themselves as articulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. The licensing of community radios will go a long way in ensuring that marginalised communities, amongst them women and children, articulate their own issues in their own voices using their own language.
Community radio is a critical component of development and during times of disaster and emergency, its strategic role remains of paramount importance.
This statement, particularly the call to license community radio stations is supported by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ).
MAZ is an alliance of media support organisations including the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe chapter), Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), Zimbabwe National Editorsâ€™ Forum (ZINEF), Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ), and the African Community Publishing Development Trust (ACPDT), ZACRAS and the Media Centre. MAZ work focuses on four key areas which are:
Freedom of Expression
Right to Information
Media Law and policy Reform