The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) has applauded the historic step taken by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to license the first three community radio stations in post-Independence Zimbabwe.
ZACRAS pointed out that it is the organisation’s fervent hope that the licensed radio stations on campuses will holistically contribute to the development of their communities through the provision of information platforms that enable community and student participation and engagement.
In a statement published on the BAZ Twitter and Facebook pages on 17 December 2020, the Authority announced the granting of community radio licenses to The Mbembesi Development Trust, Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Trust and Nyangani Community Radio Trust.
In the same statement, the Authority further advised of the granting of Campus Radio Broadcasting Service licenses to the Midlands State University and the University of Zimbabwe.
Since the promulgation of the Broadcasting Services Act of 2001 which introduced for the first time legality to the idea of community radio broadcasting in Zimbabwe through reference to the 3-tier broadcasting system comprising of public, commercial, and community broadcasting, ZACRAS has been at the forefront of advocating for the licensing of community radios so as to give a voice and accentuate existing ones in marginalised and underrepresented communities.
The formation of ZACRAS was therefore premised on the need for a unified national advocacy platform for community radio initiatives and activists. This national advocacy platform, ZACRAS, had as its primary tasks, seeking both the democratization of broadcasting and media-related laws as well as pursuing a people-centred lobbying for the urgent licensing of community radio stations.
“ZACRAS takes this opportunity to commend the Second Republic for taking visible steps in seeking to put to life the provisions of the BSA including Section 61 and 62 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which talks about access to information and freedom of expression respectively. This latest development also comes against the background of the licensing of the first campus radio, the Great Zimbabwe Campus Radio.”
ZACRAS alluded that it will continue to entreat the Government of Zimbabwe, through BAZ, to ensure that the broadcasting space is diversified in its entirety through the licensing of people centred and community rooted community radios.
“Furthermore, we urge the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the new licensees get all the technical and start-up support that is needed to get the stations off the ground. ZACRAS stands ready to partner and offer any support that may be needed as the country transforms the broadcasting sector.
“As ZACRAS, we however believe that the success of these newly licensed community radio stations and campus radio stations will only be possible if they are allowed to independently function through ensuring that communities and students are given the full rights to own and run their stations devoid of any interference from any sector. This of course can only be possible if we all respect their editorial and programming independence. As ZACRAS, we also take this time to congratulate the first three community radio licensees and two campus radio stations.
“In conclusion, ZACRAS takes time to acknowledge the role played by different stakeholders, amongst them Community Based Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, and Development Partners just to name but a few in contributing towards the licensing of community radios in Zimbabwe. Gratitude is also extended to past Chairpersons of ZACRAS and their teams namely Kudzai Kwangwari, Gift Mambipiri, and John Chirinda. This is indeed a collective victory.”