The Minister of Media, Information and Publicity, Cde Webster Shamu has urged the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) board to urgently expedite the issuance of licenses to private broadcasters and create a platform for community radio stations to go on air in line with governmentâ€™s commitment to media pluralism.
Cde Shamu made the call while officiating at the BAZ strategic planning workshop held in the capital that was aimed at planning ways the board can effectively carry out its mandate.
However, Cde Shamu said the government is fully aware of the European and Western countriesâ€™ hegemonic tendencies, of affecting a regime change agenda by sponsoring certain sections of the media to pursue the deed, saying the board has to be wary of such old fashioned tactics.
Cde Shamu specifically singled out the community radio stations initiative where he said the donor community should stay away from sponsoring such noble stations for hidden agendas saying the communities should be in the driving seat for the initiatives as the stations are meant to serve the communityâ€™s interests.
Cde Shamuâ€™s comments comes against a background where some community radio station initiatives like the Radio Dialogue stationed in Bulawayo have been accused of being imposed to the people of Bulawayo with a hidden agenda, while its source of funds has been largely foreign, thereby demeaning the principle that guides the operations of community radio stations.
BAZ board chairman, Dr Tafataona Mahoso said the board was willing to provide its key responsibilities, but however pleaded with the government to avail funds needed to process licenses for commercial stations.
â€œThe budget that we received from the government is less than three quarters of what we require to meet the processing of licenses for commercial licenses. As soon as the government provides us with the necessary cash to get the job done, everything will be done,â€ Dr Mahoso said.
Trans-media Chief Executive Officer who also doubles as the Chief Executive officer for BAZ, Mr. Obert Maganyura said 2011 will be a different year in the broadcasting sector, as his organisation will put in place mechanisms to enable both the transmission of community radio stations and the access of the public broadcaster across the country.
â€œSub stations for community radio stations will be set. If we also get the necessary funds, I can assure you that the public broadcaster will be accessible to all corners of the country,â€ he said.
Zimbabwe has already shown its commitment to media pluralism by setting up the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) that has already issued licenses to five different media players.