‘Only 2 apply for community radio licences’

ONLY two applications for community radio licences have been received by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) from Beitbridge and Plumtree, Parliament heard yesterday.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

This was revealed by BAZ board chairperson Charles Sibanda when he appeared before the Prince Dubeko Sibanda-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information and Media to discuss amendments to Statutory Instrument (SI) 39 of 2020.

The SI deals with licensing of community radio stations and the issue of the campus radio station licence which has already been issued to the Great Zimbabwe University.

MPs felt that the $8 500 licence fee for a community radio station might have been one of the inhibiting factors, resulting in very few applications.

The deadline for applications is July 31, 2020 and BAZ chief executive Obert Muganyura told the committee that it might be too early to conclude that only the two (Beitbridge and Plumtree) would be the only applicants as people had the tendency of submitting applications on the last day.

“We have received two applications for community radio stations from Beitbridge and Plumtree only,” BAZ legal officer Joyce Kupukayi told the committee.

“We also received one application from Chiredzi which we are not treating as a proper application and we have told them to resubmit their application before the deadline of July 31, but we are not happy with the rate of response because, maybe, the communities think that it is difficult to get a licence,” she said.

Makonde MP Kindness Paradza (Zanu PF) said he was not amused because the BAZ board had been in place for more than 10 months and yet they only accomplished licensing one community radio licence — the Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) campus radio station.

Sibanda said the issuing of a campus radio licence to GZU before the advertisement for applications for television and community radio licences was made above board.

“While the applications for community television and radio licences had specific deadlines, the one for campus radio had no timeframe because their frequencies are not subjected to competition,” he said.

On SI 39, Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC Alliance) said he had a problem with the definition of “community” which he said seemed limited to geographical locations, yet church or football associations could be defined as communities. He demanded clarity on the definition of the term community.

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