The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) has reiterated the important role played by the radio as a critical conduit for information dissemination on various issues including the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement comes as the World celebrates the 10th edition of World Radio Day today, with the Government of Zimbabwe having recently licensed the first three community radio stations in post-independent Zimbabwe.
The Community Radios which were granted licenses in December 2020 are the Mbembesi Development Trust, Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Trust and Nyangani Community Radio Trust.
“As the world is adapting to the ‘new normal’ as a result of the impact of Covid-19, it is ZACRAS’ conviction that the newly licensed Community Radio Stations will be critical information conduits, especially on Covid-19, thereby leading to the transformation of access to information patterns within different communities.
“As ZACRAS, we however await the finalisation of the licensing of the remaining seven community radios as espoused in the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) call for applications flighted in February 2020 which was targeting the licensing of ten Community Radio Stations,” ZACRAS said in a statement.
In Zimbabwe, a number of communities are experiencing challenges in not only accessing the information on Covid-19 but also participating in discussions on the same.
ZACRAS argues that the radio’s strategic role remains of paramount importance as witnessed by its role in aiding different sectors, Central Government included, in disaster mitigation, response, and recovery as in the case of Cyclone Chalane.
Once the licensing of the first ten stations has been finalised, it is ZACRAS’ expectation that new calls for community radio applications will be subsequently made so as to ensure that the greater majority of Zimbabweans have access to community radios.
“Ideally, barring the fact that frequencies are a finite resource, Zimbabwe should move towards ensuring that communities submit applications when they are ready without having to wait for a BAZ call for applications,”.
The association said the theme for this year’s World Radio Day commemorations comes at an opportune time as it highlights the role of radio in communicating society’s changing socio-economic dynamics.
The community radio advocates added that the radio is not only a conduit for informing, educating, and entertaining but is the most effective way of delivering information in remote, marginalized, and under-represented communities.
Despite widespread advances in technology, radio still responds to the socio-economic needs of our time and remains one of the most reliable mediums for communication.
“As we celebrate the 2021 World Radio Day, ZACRAS reaffirms its commitment to contributing towards the realisation of broadcasting diversity and pluralism in Zimbabwe so as to enable communities to access information and freely express themselves as articulated in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”
World Radio Day is annually celebrated on the 13th of February. The 2021 commemorations are being held under the theme ‘New World, New Radio’ with 3 accompanying sub-themes focusing on Innovation, Evolution, and Connection.