George Maponga in CHIREDZI
A new community radio station, Avuxeni FM, was commissioned in Chiredzi yesterday by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, who indicated that Zimbabwe is on course to a new exciting era in information access and dissemination under the Second Republic.
Zimbabwe has opened up the airwaves by licensing community radio stations and commercial television companies, as it fulfils the promise of broadening access to information for the benefit of citizens.
The licensing of community radio stations, said Minister Mutsvangwa, is aimed at narrowing the urban-rural divide in accessing information.
Minister Mutsvangwa was speaking in Chiredzi where she first commissioned Avuxeni FM community radio before presiding over World Radio Day commemorations at Tshovani Stadium.
Minister Mutsvangwa said President Mnangagwa’s administration fully supports media diversity, saying the nation was on the cusp of a new era in the sphere of information dissemination and access.
Addressing the media after officially opening Avuxeni FM, where she toured the studio and briefly went on air to mark the new milestone, Minister Mutsvangwa said the opening of the Chiredzi-based community radio station was a harbinger for exciting times ahead.
She said the opening of community radio stations in remote parts of the country was in fulfilment of President Mnangagwa’s declaration that “no place and no-one should be left behind” as Zimbabwe gravitates towards an upper middle income economy by 2030.
“We have been working under the Second Republic to make sure that we develop our country and this is exactly what the President of the country, His Excellency Dr ED Mnangagwa, has been working hard for, so that no-one and no place is left behind,” she said.
“We are saying information should reach all corners of Zimbabwe in real time, be it information about disasters or other things happening in the country.
“We will continue to allocate more resources to improve transmission in remote areas so that all our people can access radio and television services.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said community radios play a key role in promotion of local languages and traditional values.
Government deliberately issued community radio licences to remote parts of the country where minority languages are dominant to give communities there an opportunity to tell their own stories and contribute to development of their areas through access to information.
Minister Mutsvangwa said: “We are ready to fly and the challenge is now on, for other community radio stations in other parts of the country that were licensed to also start operating now that we have the first one (Avuxeni FM) that has now gone on air.”
She challenged traditional leaders and other societal leaders to take advantage of the advent of community radios to spearhead development in their communities.
Further, Minister Mutsvangwa said community radios were incubation centres for talent, and young journalists would use them to hone their skills before going out to conquer the world.
Community radios stations are also sources of content for national broadcasting companies as they will be sources of news that take place in grassroots areas.
Minister Mutsvangwa later on joined a procession from Avuxeni FM premises in the town centre to Tshovani Stadium where thousands of people converged to celebrate World Radio Day.
At the stadium, she toured various stands where companies with a bias towards radio and television broadcasting were exhibiting.
Among the companies was Zimpapers Radio, ZBC, Transmedia, Great Zimbabwe University, Hevoi FM, and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.
In her address, Minister Mutsvangwa said the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa deserved to be commended for moving with speed to promote diversity and plurality in radio and television broadcasting.
She said out of the six commercial television broadcasting stations so far licensed, one of the stations would soon go on air, marking a milestone in the history of broadcasting in Zimbabwe.
Minister Mutsvangwa said days where only ZBC used to dominate in the television broadcasting arena would soon be over with the coming of new players to create competition.
“Competition is coming and no one and no place will be left behind and this shows that President Mnangagwa is serious about developing this country into an upper middle income economy.”
However, she cautioned on the need to make sure that radios and televisions were not abused, warning that recklessly disseminating information can harm and destroy societies or nations.
She rallied Zimbabweans not to allow differences in opinion to divide them, saying in the event of differences, dialogue was always the best foot forward.
Present at the celebrations were various organisations and bodies with an interest in media, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Kindness Paradza and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Mr Nick Mangwana.