Liberalising the media explained
Opening the media space is part of President Mnangagwa’s drive to give everyone a voice and as a way of guaranteeing press freedom, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, who was represented by her deputy Kindness Paradza, told a stakeholders meeting in Harare this week.
“To date, Government, through the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services has licensed not only television stations but also radio stations, both commercial and community. Fourteen community radio stations and seven campus radio stations were licensed.”
While print and internet media do not require licensing, the need to allocate and ration frequencies means that television and radio stations do need licenses but Government has ended the State monopolies as it seeks a range of owners.
“The Ministry also managed to repeal the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and replaced it with the friendly Freedom of Information Act,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“In February 2022, we launched one of the community radio stations, Avuxeni FM, in Chiredzi. The radio station is now fully functional and has been warmly received by the Chiredzi community and those from surrounding areas.
“It brings joy to us to be able to give a voice to the marginalised and previously left-out communities. The aim of all the above mentioned efforts is to make sure that we give voices to everyone in our country and to make sure that we leave no one and no place behind,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Her ministry was seized with the proposed amendments in the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill.
The Broadcasting Services Act of 2000 had the major shortcoming of a lack of diversity and plurality in the sector. The amendment Bill seeks to further open up the airwaves by licensing community and campus radio stations and privately owned TV stations.
“Although the Bill is yet to be enacted into law, a Statutory Instrument was gazetted which led to the licensing of campus radio stations, licensing of six privately owned television broadcasters and three language-based community radio stations.”