Secretary for Information George Charamba has riled the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras) over his utterances that community radio stations should get organised before government licenses them.
Charamba, who is also President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson, last week told a gathering at Radar Farm at Watershed, Bulilima, where he was commissioning radio and television transmission, that community stations should “come up with a licensable structure”.
But Zacras chairman, Kudzai Kwangwari said Charamba’s comments were misplaced, adding the information secretary should know that community radio stations have for long been organised under their mother body.
“We represent 11 community radio stations. We don’t understand how else Charamba expects us to be organised,” said Kwangwari.
He said all the stations under Zacras have proper structures as well as equipment and involved communities where they were based.
“We are disappointed with the kind of approach and attitude from the government when it comes to the issue of licensing us. This issue is not accorded the seriousness it deserves,” he said. Kwangwari said Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement clearly stated that Zimbabwe needed to liberalise airwaves but there appeared to be no serious commitment by the inclusive government to license community radios.
“We expect the government to liberalise the airwaves. There are some areas that the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation does not reach. Those areas would benefit from community radio if we get licensed. They would get information that is relevant to their areas.”
During the same meeting, Charamba also said infrastructure in the country “cannot support several broadcasting players”.
To which Kwangwari retorted: “That is a lie and we do not believe it. There is no way that we can be hijacked. There is no involvement of external people in the stations. We serve the interests of the communities of Zimbabwe.”
Charamba also called on community radio stations to avoid being hijacked to “serve external purposes”.