Following the announcement from the Zimbabwe government that it was suspending the licensing of new radio stations, including community radio stations, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) expressed its “dismay and disappointment” with what it called “an anti-people intention.”
“This position is not in the interest of the spirit of broadcasting diversity and pluralism and it defeats the whole agenda to promote media freedom,” read the organizations’ statement, which it released last week.
The statement acknowledged that community stations have been struggling since being licensed three years ago, but says that it is not a good enough reason to suspend all licensing and that the government needs to be more supportive of those stations.
ZACRAS also sees the suspension of licensing as a violation of the country’s constitution, specifically denying free access to information and freedom of expression. The organization also points out that Zimbabwe is the only African country besides Swaziland that does not have the three-tier broadcasting system promoted by the African Charter on broadcasting.
The organization is demanding that the government abandons its plan to suspend the licensing of new stations, including community stations; takes practical measures to create an environment where the new stations can operate without any man made challenges; all media laws and policies that are not consistent with the provisions of the constitution be realigned as a matter of urgency; and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe immediately call for applications for the new stations.