A MATABELELAND-BASED human rights group has accused government of violating rights of rural communities in the region by denying them access to local radio stations.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The issue came up during commemorations of the World Radio Day held in Bulawayo over the weekend under the theme Radio in Times of Emergency and Disaster.
The Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) said it was saddening that 36 years after independence, most rural communities in Matabeleland region had no access to local radio stations and relied on broadcasts from Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and international “pirate radio stations” beaming into Zimbabwe via shortwave.
“Lack of access to radio reception in Matabeleland violates constitutional and fundamental rights and freedoms that include right to access information, right to education, right to health, as well as right to life among other interlinked rights and freedoms,” the MIHR said in a statement.
“We, therefore, call on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to advise the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the right to information for the citizens of Matabeleland is prioritised through extending radio reception to all districts. We call on Members of Parliament from Matabeleland to ask the Minister of Information (Christopher Mushohwe) when the affected people of Matabeleland will receive radio reception. We further call on the relevant authorities to issue licenses to community radio stations in Matabeleland.”
Mushohwe, meanwhile, toured ZBC’s Montrose Studios in Bulawayo last week where he indicated that the ongoing digitalisation programme was aimed at enabling communities in Matabeleland to access local radio stations.
World Radio Day has been commemorated annually since 2011 to celebrate the advent of radio as a medium of communication, improve international co-operation between broadcasters; and to encourage major networks and community radio alike to promote access to information, freedom of expression and gender equality over the airwaves.