Community radios conduct election programmes

HARARE - Community radio initiatives in the country have vowed to play a crucial role in spreading information during and after the elections due on Monday despite the government failing to license them to operate from their respective communities.

Zimbabwe Association of Communication Radio Stations (Zacras) which for years has been advocating for the opening of community radio air space has also lately been holding constituency development talk shows in various parts of the country ahead of elections.

Zacras acting national coordinator Kudzie Kwangari said their programmes will be running in 22 districts on election day. Zacras has 22 members who run community radio stations across the country.

“During polling day community radio initiatives shall be used to monitor and observe to ensure irregularities are reported and known for corrective measures.

“They present a citizen-based monitoring mechanism which puts pressure on authorities to perform. Post polling date, community radio initiatives will ensure that citizens remain engaged to be able to demand delivery from elected officials through sustained social accountability intervention,” he said.

Kwangwari said they will utilise various communication platforms as part of their bid to inform communities on the election proceedings.

“Community radio initiatives play a telling role in this election by ensuring informed citizenry in this election through the utilisation of various communication platforms including internet and mobile based ones,” Kwangwari said.

“In 22 districts these facilities regardless of the fact that they are yet to be licensed, have been engaged in constituency development talk shows where they are facilitating interaction between aspiring candidates and citizens,” he said.

Some of the community radio initiatives include the recently revived Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, Wezhira FM in Masvingo, Kwelaz FM in Kwekwe, Nkabazwe FM in Gwanda, Kumakomo FM in Mutare and Getjenge FM in Plumtree among others.

As part of asserting their presence to communities, Zacras has been hosting constituency development talk shows.

“This way the candidates were subjected to interrogation by citizens regarding policy and development priorities. The idea is to engender issue based politics to communities as opposed to personality and party based euphoria and hoodwink.

“This approach has seen community voices including women and young people’s cultivated to find expression in national discourses,” he said.

Zacras has for nearly two decades been engaging the government over its hard stance against licencing community radio stations but with no success.

“We have had meetings with various former government officials from the late Tichafa Jokonya, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Webster Shamu, Jonathan Moyo and former deputy Thokozile Mathuthu, all of them with different excuses ranging from questioning definition of word community to accusing us of regime change agents,” he said.

“Jonathan Moyo accused us of masquerading as communities ourselves while George Charamba says we represent synthetic communities,” Kwangwari said.

Kwangwari said they have in the past met various parliamentary portfolio committees in their bid to push government to accede to their demands but with no reprieve.

“We have drafted a proposed regulatory framework of community radios, came up with position papers and demonstrated but the government has simply cast a deaf ear,” he said.

He, however, said it was unfortunate that president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has also shown little or no interest in putting the community radio battle to rest.

 

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