Gweru (New Ziana) -Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa on Thursday said the government is committed to licensing community radio stations so as to foster national development as well as fulfill the regulatory envisaged three-tier broadcasting system.
Speaking during World Radio Day commemorations, Mutsvangwa said the country currently had both public and commercial broadcasters but was yet to license community broadcasters.
“Let me make this point clear, we are going to license community stations. We are about to license community radio stations,” she said.
Mutsvangwa said for everyone to participate in development at a devolved level, their voices should be heard and evidence had shown that radio was the most popular platform for information in Zimbabwe, particularly in rural areas.
She said to develop at the grassroots level, people should take pride in their communities and cultivate a sense of ownership for their own development.
“It is here that the community radio will play a critical role. For this reason there is no turning back on rolling out community stations. We believe in the power of radio,” she said.
Mutsvangwa said as newspapers became expensive, radio continued to dominate as the main source of information for the people.
She said radio should open its doors to people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups so that their voices were heard.
Radio also played a crucial role in times of disasters as experienced during Cyclone Idai, she said.
She said radio content should have the diversity of communities that it served.
Mutsvangwa said the government had closed the legal gap that existed in law which hindered the establishment of community stations by gazetting regulations which set the framework for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe to call for applications.
Apart from community radios, Mutsvangwa said it was a policy objective of her Ministry to have campus radios for institutions of higher learning licensed.
“To this end we have gazetted a frequency allotment plan and regulations that enable the establishment of about 19 campus stations in this country.”
The Ministry, she said, had been expanding infrastructure under the digitalization programme that saw new transmitters installed at Gokwe-Nembudziya, Kanyemba, Madlambuzi, Tugwi Mukosi, Risutu and Zvishavane while old ones were refurbished at Chivhu, Mount Darwin and St Alberts.
Mutsvangwa said while radio had positive contributions to society, it could also be used to rip a nation apart if it was in the wrong hands.
She urged those that have licenses and those that were going to be issued with some to use them responsibly and in the national interest.
In a speech read on his behalf, Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Larry Mavima said even in today’s world of advanced digital communications, radio continued to have the widest reach of people than any other media.
Mavhima said radio was a vital medium for informing and empowering communities with information relating to how they could harness the benefits of devolution.
“In this time of climate-induced disasters, radio plays a crucial role during emergency communication and disaster relief,” he said.