Magwegwe MP Felix Magalela Sibanda (MDC-T) on Tuesday warned against awarding of radio licences to partisan organisations, saying this could lead to genocide.
Sibanda was contributing to a motion in Parliament triggered by the controversial awarding of radio licences to Zanu PF-aligned AB Communications and Zimpapers by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
“The radio is an arsenal and if it is not well run, it can be dangerous,” he said.
“When you give radio licences to media that can be described as ‘gutter’ or unprofessional, you are going to cause genocide like what happened in Rwanda.”
MPs from the two MDC formations are pushing for withdrawal of the licences and dissolution of BAZ, which they allege was improperly constituted.
The motion was introduced by Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya.
“In Rwanda and Burundi, people died because of the insinuation of radio and so if you give licences to mad people, that is dangerous because radio can be a source of genocide.”
Sibanda cited the 1983-1987 Gukurahundi era when the late Vice-President Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo had to flee the country dressed like a woman after sustained hate-filled attacks on him by State-run broadcaster ZBC.
“Between 1983 and 1987, the ZBC fanned a lot of hate speech and Nkomo had to flee the country to save his life,” he said.
“They were playing songs to denigrate Nkomo and that action resulted in 20 000 people being butchered in Matabeleland.
“In the year 2000 during Operation Murambatsvina, ZBC was also fanning a lot of hate speech while people’s homes were being destroyed.”
He also cited the pre-independence era when the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation showed pictures of “terrorists” being thrown out of helicopters to children.
“Hate speech and violence started way back in 1965 and so licences have to be given to professionals who are non-partisan,” Sibanda said.
“That is why we have Radio VOP, Studio 7 and SW Radio broadcasting from outside, (it’s) because you are denying them licences.
“It would be naive for Dynamos to play its reserve side. Zimpapers is an offspring of the status quo and issuing it with a licence means there is no competition going on in the airwaves because ideologically and physiologically they are the same as ZBC.”