Zi-FM, Zimbabwe’s first privately owned radio station, last week turned one year after hitting the airwaves in August 2012 to signal a new horizon on the country’s broadcasting landscape.
REPORT BY JOHN NYASHANU,POLITICAL EDITOR
In an interview recently, the station’s chief executive officer and founder Supa Mandiwanzira said the road had not been all rosy owing to “expensive money” from lending institutions and lack of sufficient experts in a country in which very few tertiary institutions teach broadcasting.
“We obviously had to borrow money from the banks which unfortunately has been expensive, but it’s the nature of the business environment at the moment. We hope now going forward things will begin to shape up in terms of availability of capital that is reasonably priced,” said Mandiwanzira.
Turning to lack of experts in broadcasting, the journalist-cum-businessman-turned politician said: “The bulk of broadcasters in this country are only trained at (Harare) Polytechnic and ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation). We need more institutions to train these youngsters for us to keep abreast with world trends,” said Mandiwanzira who recently entered the political fray and won the Nyanga South parliamentary seat in last month’s harmonised elections.
However, in the face of all these challenges, Mandiwanzira said Zi-Fm was growing from strength to strength and predicted that in a few years, it could turn to be the station of choice internationally.
“We are targeting the young and those with the buying power. We are targeting those living north of the railway line. You will find that our audience is aged between 18 and 45 years — those with spending money, those at the centre of driving the Zimbabwean economy,” he said.
Zi-Fm was awarded a licence alongside Star FM, owned by Zimpapers. The process was, however, criticised by some observers who argued that both beneficiaries were aligned to Zanu PF and aspirants from opposition groups had been deliberately overlooked.