By Tafadzwa Chigandiwa
Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) have indicated that they expect government through the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to grant licenses to more community radio stations.
Last year, BAZ announced that it will grant licenses to 10 community radio stations but only three have been granted permission to operate so far.
This means the remaining seven community radio stations are yet to be licensed, however it is all in BAZ’s hands as the mother board to grant the licenses to the remaining seven applicants, who are still under scrutiny.
The three community radio stations that government granted licenses are Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Trust, Nyanganu Community Radio Trust and Mbembesi Development Trust who were licensed to operate in December last year.
In their statement to celebrate World Radio Day, ZACRAS stressed that there are hopefully waiting for the government to grant licenses to the remaining seven community radios.
“As ZACRAS, we however await the finalization of the licensing of the remaining seven community radios as espoused in the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) call for applicants flighted in February 2020 which was targeting the licensing of ten Community Radio Stations,”.
ZACRAS also added that community radios are a important to all the communities across the country, particularly at a moment where the world and the country are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to ZACRAS, community radio stations play a major role to provide access to information at community level.
They also highlighted that community radios are a proper channel to convey information and updates especially at a time of disaster.
In this regard providing information about the novel corona virus to those that live in the periphery.
“As the world adapting to a ‘new normal’ as a result of Covid-19, it is ZACRAS’ conviction that the newly licensed Community Radio Stations will be critical information conduits, especially on Covid-19, thereby leading to the transformation of access to information patterns within different communities.
“Radio’s strategic role remains of paramount importance as witnessed by its role in aiding different sectors, Central Government included, in disaster mitigation, response and recovery as in the case of Cyclone Chalane,”.
Zacras today celebrate the 10th edition of World Radio Day under the theme, ‘New Wolrd, New Radio’ with 3 accompanying sub-themes focusing on Innovation, Evolution and Connection.
“As we celebrate the 2021 World Radio Day ,ZACRAS re-affirms that its commitment to contributing towards the realization of broadcasting diversity and pluralism in Zimbabwe so as to enable communities to access information and freely express themselves as articulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe,”.
However, due to a ban to all public gatherings through government imposed lockdown regulations, the World Radio Day celebrations will be conducted via a webinar.
Historically, the three community radios that were granted licenses, are the first to be given permission to operate as licensed community radio stations in the post independence Zimbabwe.