The Zimbabwean government must liberalise the airwaves and promote the establishment of community radio stations in order to advance freedom of expression in the country, local and international Civil Society Organisations have said.
Addressing members of the media during the launch of the Advocacy for Community Radio Licencing in the capital today, AIZ Campaign Director, Roselina Muzerengi demanded the government to guarantee the citizens’ right to information.
The launch was done by Amnesty International (AIZ) in partnership with Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) as well as The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF).
“Ensure that the right to freedom of expression and the right to information are enjoyed by all people in Zimbabwe without discrimination,” Muzerengi said.
She added :“Ensure a fair and simple licencing procedure which does not require stringent technological or other licencing criteria which disadvantages community applicants for broadcasting services.”
Muzerengi further called on the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) to adopt an open-minded mechanism of licensing of community broadcasting services through relaxing application terms and costs.
“We call upon BAZ to lower the fees for licences to ease the financial burden for applicants for community broadcasting services,” added Muzerengi.
ZACRAS chairperson Pelagia Kapuya weighed in saying the government lacks a political will to license community radio stations.
“There is no political will to licence community radio stations, that is why there is this drive to real push advocacy efforts to make sure that there are community radio licence.”
However, she said her organisation will continue to pile pressure until the message reaches the government.
She said stringent laws like Access to Information, Protection and Privacy Act (AIPPA) must be scrapped.