Lobby Govt to licence community radio stations, CSOs urged

Local civil society organisations have been urged to actively lobby the government to licence community radio stations to ensure that marginalised communities have access to information.

Zimbabwe is yet to licence community radio stations and in February Minister of Information Monica Mutsvangwa said the government was in the process of regularising the operations of community radios.

This came out during a regional community radio discussion, Thursday, hosted by Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) with the support of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to discuss community radio sustainability during and beyond Covid-19.

Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) CEO, Zukiswa Potye from South Africa said Government’s will is important in creating conducive environment for community radios.

“To those countries that do not have the type of community media which is free in South Africa, I think the will of government is very important and the legislative framework is very important in creating a conducive environment for community media or for media transformation,” said Potye.

“It is very important for civil society and all the groups to come together with the government to try and convince the government of the need for those needs of media freedom and the need for structures and supported media so that we do not have marginalised groups in this era, people that do not have access to community media or the media that they understand in their language.”

Potye said community radios play a critical role in nation building and for communities to hold the government to account.

Drawing examples from South Africa, she emphasised on the need for communities to come up with models to sustain the radio stations.

“We cannot over emphasise the need and the importance of a community media, our radio stations to be embedded and entrenched in communities, however it is also very real that some of these communities where these community media need to serve them cannot actually sustain them, it is happening here in South Africa.

“So we are hoping to design or develop a sustainability model that will categorise community media in South
Africa in terms of their ability to self-sustain, to partially sustain and those that will remain unable to sustain at all,” she said.

The webinar discussion was part of a regional project being implemented by ZACRAS with the support of the EU and UNESCO.The objective of the ZACRAS project is to strengthen regional collaborations during and beyond the Covid 19 pandemic mainly targeting community radios in East and Southern Africa.

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