By Vumani Mthiyane
Chief Nhlamba of Matabeleland South has called on the government to urgently license community radio stations as they are a necessary tool for community development.
Speaking on the sidelines of Ntepe Community radio road show that marked the commemoration of a belated World Radio Day held at Ntepe businesses centre, Chief Nhlamba said community radio stations are vital in information dissemination at a local level.
“As community members, we are anxiously waiting for the licensing of community radio stations. There are a lot of challenges that are happening here without being announced but if we had our own radio it will be easy to disseminate information at the grassroots level.
“This is a cattle ranching area and a lot of stock theft is taking place without trace, some funerals are not announced and some community members are into market gardening but fail to sell their produce due to lack of market linkages,” said Chief Nhlamba adding that with a community radio, all this will be a thing of the past.
“Besides reporting on stock theft, Ntepe community radio can also be used as a tool of preserving our culture. To start off with, the language isiJahunda has died a natural death because we don’t have a platform to teach our children,” lamented the chief.
Speaking at the same event, Ward 14 Councillor Pheanous Maphosa said the licensing of community radio stations is long overdue.
“I don’t know what is lacking because the issue of licensing community radio stations is long overdue,” he said.
“We want community radio stations to be licensed because as communities we have a lot of programmes that can be successful when we utilize radio as a medium of communication.
“The reach out will be excellent and secondly radio is not expensive unlike relying on cell phones.”
Ntepe community radio also marked its 10th anniversary operating without a license.
The board chairperson, Kenneth Magwala said, “In May we will be 10 years old still advocating for a community radio license. Different ministers of information have come and gone with giving us a satisfactory answer yet the constitution is very clear on the licensing of a community radio station.”
A young person from the area, Thokozani Mnkandla said if Ntepe community radio station is licensed, it will create employment for the youths and lessen criminal activities such as stock theft.
“The licensing and establishing of Ntepe community radio station will create employment for the youths and cases of stock theft will reduce. Talented youths and other artists will showcase their talents and market their talents through the use of radio,” said Mnkandla.
Informal traders also showed they support for the radio station saying it is a good initiative that will bring community development.
However, NGOs and other press freedom groups seeking to diversify media ownership scored a victory during the former President Robert Mugabe when he signed into law a new Constitution in 2013 that directs the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) which regulates national airwaves to allow community radio stations access to frequency modulation (FM).
In November last year, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mtswangwa, revealed that plans were afoot to amend the AIPPA and Broadcasting Services Act to accommodate the licensing of community radio stations.