Stakeholders from Plumtree town, Bulilima and Mangwe districts are meeting on Friday to strategise on applying for a community radio licence following a recent call for applications by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
BAZ, last week for the first time since independence, invited applications for 10 community radio stations across the country including Plumtree, Gwanda, Beitbridge, Hwange, Binga and Victoria Falls.
Applicants are expected to pay $8 500 application fee and if successful will be required to pay $17 000 per annum in licence fees.
The licensing authority set March 20 as the deadline for submitting applications.
Organised by Getjenge Community Radio initiative, Radio BuKalanga, Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Association, the Plumtree indaba is expected to attract at least 50 participants from the border town and its sister districts of Bulilima and Mangwe.
“The stakeholders to attend the meeting are organisations and individuals who are very critical in terms of community radio licensing agenda,” Thomas Sithole of Getjenge Community Radio initiative told CITE.
“We felt that as a community to achieve the much-needed social capital and community rootedness and buy-in regarding the application process itself of the community radio as the third tier of broadcasting, we needed people to come together so that it’s not something that is imposed on them but it’s something coming from the people themselves.”
Sithole further explained: “The agenda itself will look at constituting the body corporate, which obviously is one of the requirements by BAZ. It’s not something that can be done by a few individuals, so we felt that the community itself should deliberate on this issue.”
The other issue on the agenda, according to Sithole, would be looking at the name of the community radio itself.
“This is important because it is coming under the background of some years of community mobilisation under the auspices of community radio movement led by Getjenge Community Radio initiative.
Sustainability of the community radio station and resource mobilisation will also be tackled at the Plumtree indaba.
“There is a need to raise the registration fees as well as the licence fee. This money has to come from the community itself,” added Sithole.
Media stakeholders have lamented the recently gazetted broadcasting fees, which they described as prohibitive to new players while maintaining the state’s grip on the airwaves.
Government’s involvement in setting up community radio has also been criticized by analysts who feel that is likely to render them extensions of the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.