The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) has come out guns blazing, lambasting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, George Charamba over his recent remarks that the call for the licensing of real community radio stations as ‘noise’ and ‘unwarranted’.
Speaking at the official opening of AB Communications’ Hevoi FM in Masvingo last week, Charamba described the calls for licensing of community radio stations as noise and unwarranted.
Responding to Charamba’s remarks, ZACRAS Programmes Manager, Kudzai Kwangwari said Charamba should not confuse the nation into believing that commercial and community radio stations are the same adding that he is the one making unwarranted noises.
“It is dangerous and irresponsible for a public official such as the Permanent Secretary (George Charamba) to try and hoodwink citizens into believing that commercial and community radio seek to serve the same purpose.
“ZACRAS therefore implores Mr Charamba not to take Zimbabweans for granted and should cease making unwarranted noise,” he said.
Kwangwari said Charamba should consider the citizen’s wishes and implement the recommendations made by the Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) report.
“Findings from the government sanctioned outreach meetings done by the IMPI indicate that many Zimbabweans expressed the need for the licensing of community radio in Zimbabwe.
“It is therefore unfortunate that by saying that the ‘noise’ for the issuance of community radio licenses is unwarranted, Mr Charamba is dismissing citizen views and concerns,” he said.
He went on to say the Zimbabwean government is still to fulfill the three tier broadcasting system (Commercial, Public and Community) and community radio stations cannot be substituted for local commercial radio stations as they totally differ from approach, ownership, programming, motivation and principle, accessibility to citizens as well as participation.
Last week, one of the leading Media companies AB Communications owned by cabinet Minister Supa Mandiwanzira officially opened its two local commercial radio stations in Masvingo and Gweru which were a direct result from calls to license community radios along several other regional commercial stations across the country.
ZACRAS was founded in 2003 as an umbrella body of community radio initiatives which helps in capacitating communities on how to run and manage them.
Members of ZACRAS include Kadoma’s Berina FM. Bubja from Mutoko, Bulawayo Youth Broadcasting (Star FM), Community Radio of Harare (CORAH), Getjenge FM from Mutare, Hwange FM, Kumakomo in Mutare, Kwelaz FM from Kwekwe, Mabhikwa in Lupane, Mzinyathi in Esigodini, Nkabazwe from Gweru, Nkayi FM, Ntepe Community Radio from Gwanda, Patsaka-Nyaminyami in Kariba, Radio Chiedza in Harare, Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, Twasumpuka in Binga, VeMuganga Community Radio in Chipinge, Wezhira in Masvingo and Zhwane in Tsholotsho.