The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), an umbrella body of community radio stations and initiatives joins other broadcasting communities in commemorating World Radio Day, the 13th of February. This day was set aside by the United Nations as a way of creating awareness on the power of radio in not only bringing communities together, but also enhancing citizen participation through the promotion of access to information and basic information sharing. The Association notes that radio has remained one of the most powerful tools for community development, especially the community radio sector.
Why Community Radio?
Communication is a basic human right and the emphasis placed on the freedom to communicate is significant because human life depends on communication. To be fully human, one needs to link with other people and communities. It is through communication that communities are formed and empowered. The link between communities leads to nations and nations cannot function without being informed of social and political events in the state, region and internationally. It stands to reason therefore that communication is the nerve of all communities and the government of Zimbabwe should not only recognize this right, but actively support it. In some countries, the community radio sector is actually funded by government.
It is unfortunate that the commemoration of the World Radio Day is coming against a background where the government of Zimbabwe continues to exhibit lack of interest and political willÂ Â to liberalize the broadcasting sector and particularly the community radio sector.
Recently the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) issued a statement on the pegging of fees for casting platforms including road, narrow and rail. The exorbitant fees imposed are a clear indication of the insincerity of the government to liberalize the airwaves.
ZACRAS as a patriotic Zimbabwean association of community radio stations demands the following;
a) That there be a proper broadcasting framework which supports the growth and flourishing of the community radio sector in Zimbabwe as opposed to deliberate frustration of its growth as is the case now.
b) All legislation which inhibits the growth of community radio must be either repealed or constructively amended including the Broadcasting Services Act.
c) That the operational environment of media practitioners be conducive without the intimidation and arbitrary arrests as is currently the case.
d) That the licensing of community broadcasters be given priority as a sector which gives power to citizens and not the elite.
e) That the three tier broadcasting system enshrined in the African Charter on Broadcasting, to which Zimbabwe is a signatory, be actively pursued.
As we commemorate this day, we call upon all Zimbabweans to celebrate their voice and push for the democratization of spaces where their God given right to communicate is exercised freely.
This statement is made with the support of the following membership of ZACRAS;
- Ntepe Community Radio Initiative- Gwanda
- Getjenge Community Radio Initiative- Plumtree
- Y- Star FM initiative- Bulawayo
- Radio Dialogue FM- Bulawayo
- Hwange Community Radio Initiative- Hwange
- Nkayi Community Radio Initiative- Nkayi
- Nkabazwe Community Radio Initiative- Gweru
- Kwelaz Community Radio- Kwekwe
- Berina Community Radio Initiative- Kadoma
- Community Radio Harare- Harare
- WeZhira Community Radio â€“ Masvingo
- Kumakomo Community Radio Initiative- Mutare
- Patsaka-Nyami-nyami Community Radio - Kariba