- Last Updated on 23 March 2012
- Hits: 1571
Bulawayo's community radio initiative, Radio Dialogue in conjunction with Bulawayo Agenda and the Zimbabwe Association for Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) yesterday, 21 March 2012 held a community radio broadcasting conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF). The conference which was held under the theme, 'Community Radio: a tool for community development' was attended by close to 1000 residents drawn from the city's 29 wards.
The key speakers at the broadcasting conference included Radio Dialogue's Production Manager, Zenzele Ndebele who gave a brief background of community radios in Zimbabwe and the differences between a community radio and a commercial radio. Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) Director, Takura Zhangazha presented on the political implications of media laws in Zimbabwe. He stressed that it is the right of all citizens to demand a licence as it is the gate way to achieving freedom of expression. He also said it is important for residents to be knowledgeable on the Broadcasting Services Act as knowledge is key to progressive activism. Thabani Nyoni, Bulawayo Agenda Director and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson spoke on the role played by civic society organisations in advocating for the liberalisation of the airwaves. He revealed that civic society organisations have played a significant role in setting up community radio initiatives across the country.
While there were suggestions from the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association that residents should boycott paying television and radio licences until community radio stations are licensed, Koliwe Nyoni representing the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) said licences are paid for possession of a radio or television set and not for programming. National University of Science and Technology media lecturer Blessing Jona said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) 'has not done anything to licence community broadcasters and will not do anything to licence 'independent' community radio stations'. He said it is up to the residents to do something to demand community radio licences.
During the conference, the residents agreed that they would stage a peaceful march demanding community broadcasting licences. Efforts to stage the march were however thwarted by baton wielding police officers who immediately descended on the venue of the conference. According to Radio Dialogue Director, Ms. Debra Mabunda, the police insisted that people were not to move in a group after the conference.
Bulawayo residents seem keen to engage in mass protests to call for the licensing of all community radio stations. Recalling that Radio Dialogue was during the past week denied a police clearance to march to the venue, the residents agreed that police clearance applications should in the future be copied to the three principals. The declaration that was later made towards the end of the conference highlighted that the relevant authorities should be given an ultimatum to licence community radio stations.
Article by Radio Dialogue