The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Cde George Charamba, has blasted the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) for attempting to usurp the role of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) which has the mandate to issue community radio licences.Cde Charambaâ€™s comments come in the wake of recent developments where MISA misrepresented itself to rural communities to the effect that it could issue community radio licenses.
The George Soros-funded non-governmental organisation hoodwinked a number of rural communities into sending representatives to Harare to sign a dubious notarial deed of trust document purporting to establish community radio stations.
The signatures are said to have been meant for building a case against BAZ and government for allegedly denying people community radio licences.
â€œMISA is dabbling in politics and is taking advantage of rural communities and seeking to usurp the mandate of BAZ,â€ said Cde Charamba.
Cde Charamba said by so doing, MISA never considered that they were giving a raw deal to rural people by forcing them to sign a document which they did not understand and making the trustees liable for lawsuits while excluding the founder.
He called on BAZ to go out into various communities to investigate the issue and explain to the people that it is the only body that is vested with the power to issue broadcasting licences.
â€œThe case is a wake-up call to the authority to be on alert to bogus organisations that seek to hijack the governmentâ€™s community radio licensing programme,â€ added Cde Charamba.
Cde Charamba promised that government will do everything possible to ensure that the community radio project will benefit the intended people and that it is not abused by those with ulterior motives.
MISAâ€™s attempts to tarnish the community radio project came to light when a group of representatives from Chief Njelele in Gokwe queried the authenticity of the NGOâ€™s exercise.
Meanwhile, MISA has admitted to allegations of duping people from various communities into signing a document which purports that they are applying for community radio station licenses under a government project.
Contacted for comment by ZBC News, MISAâ€™s National Chairman, Njabulo Ncube confirmed that his organisation was the originator of the document at the centre of the controversy, but rejected the notion of illegality, saying his organisation is mandated to carry out such activities.
However, from the statements issued by the whistle blowers into the matter, Mr. Shara Mbanje and Mr. Nickson Misi, both from Gokwe,Â MISA misrepresented to rural communities that they were sanctioned by government to undertake the project.
BAZ, through its CEO, Mr. Obert Muganyura distanced itself from MISAâ€™s actions and said the licensing authority is yet to invite applications for community radio stations.
BAZ said it invited applications for local commercial radio licences in 14 areas but only eight applications have been received for three areas namely Harare, Bulawayo and Lupane.