THE Catholic Arch-Diocese of Harare has launched a community radio initiative which is aimed at fostering peace and reconciliation in the country.
BY OUR STAFF – The Standard
Radio Chiedza comes at a time when the government has announced plans to further liberalise the airwaves to take advantage of the 2015 deadline to digitalise broadcasting.
Head of the Jesuit Province of Zimbabwe, Father Stephen Buckland said Radio Chiedza would serve not only the catholic community but the entire nation.
He said Radio Chiedza and other community radios have the potential to give communities on the ground a new kind of voice.
“This is a very important role that community radio can play in building and in reconciling our nation. We are many voices, not just one: let us all be heard,” said Buckland.
He said the project would complement rather than compete with public radio.
“It is not much different from the situation in education and health,” said Buckland. “In these sectors, the state clearly does not have the capacity to provide for all the needs of the citizens of this country, and so others step in.”
He said the radio station would foster unity and tolerance among the communities and the nation at large.
“Through Radio Chiedza, we will be ready to further carry the work of salvation, redemption and reconciliation in a very complete and practical way for today in our nation,” said Buckland.
The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (Zacras) national coordinator, Vivian Marara, said lobbying for the issuance of community broadcasting licences was intensifying.
“We are not going to stop pushing for the licensing of our members,” she said. “Whether it will take us five or 10 years, we will be patient and continue appealing to government for the licences. We appreciate that there have been calls from some government officials promising that they are going to license some community radios but we are saying it is time for action, not mere utterances.”
Public relations executive and former broadcaster, Busi Chindove challenged authorities to realise that people were thirsty for divergent voices.
She said the convergence of factors allowing the establishment of the community radio was coming together in terms of the Constitution, which allows for such initiatives and the hunger that people have for choice with regards to channels of communication.
Zimbabwe remains the only nation in Sadc with no licensed community radios despite the existence of at least 15 community radio initiatives countrywide.