The licensing of community and campus radios is a positive step towards ensuring the provision of accurate information on Covid 19 in a bid to dispel myths and information, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) has said.
The statement comes as the world commemorates the 2021 World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) today with ZACRAS recognizing the significant role played by a diverse and pluralist media in promoting development and democracy.
The 2021 WPFD celebrations come at a time when Zimbabwe and the rest of the world are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration which seeks to promote an independent and pluralistic media.
ZACRAS acknowledged and hailed the licensing of 6 campus and 6 community radio stations. It said at a time that the world is battling the negative impact of Covid 19, the licensing of community and campus radios is a positive step towards ensuring the provision of accurate information on Covid 19 in a bid to dispel myths and disinformation.
The association said remains hopeful that the Government of Zimbabwe will license more community and campus radios so as to promote information diversity and called upon the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to be fair, transparent, and non-partisan in the awarding of the licenses.
“The 2021 WPFD theme “Information as a Public Good” asserts the significance of cherishing information as a public good which should therefore be regarded as sacred. Through free and responsive media, the interaction between the state and citizens is enhanced thereby enabling the participation of citizens in promoting accountability and transparency. This is especially with reference to community-based media which is available and more accessible to communities.
“It is however disheartening that the 2021 WPFD commemorations come at a time when the media the world-over is facing sustainability challenges which threaten its very existence as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, we urge the Government of Zimbabwe to take a lead in seeking solutions to assist the media including coming up with rescue packages,” ZACRAS said in a statement.
The WPFD annually commemorated on the 3rd of May not only acts as a reminder to Governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom but is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is also a day of remembrance and paying tribute to those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.