THE officer commanding police in Kwekwe district Chief Superintendent Maritha Nyathi on Wednesday stopped a registered trust from holding a community roadshow in Silobela saying it first needed to get a licence from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
Sabakwe Community Radio Initiative Trust, a pressure group formed to push government to open up the airwaves and licence community radio stations, intended to hold a roadshow in Silobela on Friday to raise awareness.
Kudakwashe Zvarayi, convener of the aborted roadshow, made an application to the police to clear the event, but it was rejected with police saying only licenced broadcasters are allowed to march.
“In response to your application to hold a community radio roadshow at Crossroads Silobela, please be advised that your application has not been authorised… Sabakwe Community Radio is not registered with the BAZ … In terms of the law, anyone who wants to operate a radio station must have registered with BAZ,” wrote Nyathi.
Zvarayi said the his initiative was not broadcasting and therefore did not need to have a licence from BAZ to educate people on the importance of a community radio station and felt the police had misdirected themselves.
“We are registered in terms of the law as a tand we even forwarded our registration to the police,” he said.
“The country is supposed to open up democratic space allowing citizens to lobby and advocate for change of laws but the police are standing in the way of democracy. That is a shame.”
Under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), legislation deemed to be draconian by human rights groups, any public meeting should be cleared by the police beforehand. Lawyer Charles Chigomere said the police appeared not to even understand the application by Sebakwe Radio Community Trust.
“It appears the police misdirected themselves because the roadshow has nothing to do with broadcasting. It is just a democratic way of sharing ideas,” Chigomere said.