TRADITIONAL leaders have backed calls by independent groups for the government to open up broadcasting airwaves by licensing community radio stations.
Chiefs and headmen said the licensing of community radio stations was the only solution in guaranteeing development in their areas, which are mostly rural.
They made the statements yesterday during a traditional chiefs’ conference on community radio stations facilitated by the Zimbabwe Community Radio Stations (Zacras) held in Bulawayo.
Zacras represents 14 community radio stations’ initiatives countrywide.
Chief Siansali of Binga said community radio stations were necessary to preserve culture, language and foster unity in communities.
“Community radio stations are very important as they are the only available medium that can help us preserve our cultures and languages. They are also necessary in inculcating a culture of respect for each other among varying tribes and races,” he said.
Chief Siansali is also a member of the Senate and chairperson of the Binga Community Trust.
Headman Chisumbanje of Chisumbanje in Manicaland said community radio stations were an important tool to empower communities.
“Community radio stations are needed to empower communities, for example, in Chisumbanje 80% of the people that are employed at the ethanol plant are from other areas and we as the communities of Chisumbanje are not benefiting,” he said.
“If we had a community radio station, we were going to address this issue using this medium.”
Harrison Nyamupfudza, a representative of Chief Nyamhunga of Kariba, indicated that the government should immediately licence community radio stations.
“I am happy about what I have learnt at this conference about community radio stations. I have learnt that they are not about politics, but about developing our areas,” he said.
“I am going to sit down with my chief and other chiefs in Kariba and show them the importance of community radio stations as they can help to develop our areas.”
Zacras vice-chairperson Prince Zwide kaLanga Khumalo implored chiefs to lead in the campaigns for the licensing of community radios.
Zimbabwe has no community radio stations.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe has not called for applications to operate community radio stations.