Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Mat South Bureau Chief
THE Government has upscaled decentralisation of broadcasting services in line with its philosophy of leaving no one and no place behind through enhancing access to information and giving marginalised communities a platform to articulate issues affecting them in their language.
Yesterday Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa commissioned the Ntepe-Manama community radio station in Gwanda which has given the Babirwa people in Manama an opportunity to have a local radio station broadcasting in SeSotho.
The radio station which is broadcasting within a radius of five kilometres will soon cover a radius of 40 to 60 kilometres.
The programme coincided with the belated commemorations of the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
The day is commemorated on September 28.
In line with the devolution policy, community radio stations give a voice to people who lack access to mainstream media, expedite information dissemination and uphold creative growth and democracy at the community level. The devolution policy is anchored on values and principles that guarantee equitable sharing of local and national resources including enhancing participation of local communities in decision making processes.
Speaking during the event, Minister Mutsvangwa urged the community of Manama to use the community radio station to amplify key development issues. She said language was key in the preservation of culture and customs.
“The launch today of the Ntepe-Manama Community Radio Station is part of the decentralisation of broadcasting services in line with the Second Republic’s mantra of leaving no one and no place behind. This is part of efforts by the Government to enhance access to information and to give those in marginalised parts of the country a platform to articulate their community issues. Gone are the days when people used to lament the lack of local platforms where they could discuss issues that affect them at community level because of transmission challenges,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa added: “Citizens ended up tuning to radio stations from neighbouring countries, which in itself is a huge disservice to information dissemination. This all changed upon the assumption of office of His Excellency, President Dr ED Mnangagwa. Media reforms were immediately instituted, opening up the airwaves for more and diverse voices in broadcasting.”
She said 14 community radio stations and seven campus radio stations have been licensed and of these, five community radio stations are operational while five campus radio stations have also gone on air.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the campus radio stations are a response to Education 5.0 to equip university and college students with practical broadcasting skills.
She said community radio stations serve as forerunners of development as they provide communities with a forum for discussion and participation in local development.
Through the radio station, Minister Mutsvangwa said Ntepe-Manama community’s culture will be amplified as it will be broadcasting in SeSotho.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Ntepe Manama community could now access information from the Government on various projects and programmes underway or earmarked for the future which can benefit them.
The coming in of the Second Republic’s inclusive development agenda has seen the construction of Tuli Manyange Dam, Guyu-Manama Road and the resuscitation of irrigation schemes like Chelesa and Sebasa among others. She said Ntepe Manama FM will now inform its community about these projects being championed by the Second Republic.
“The International Day for Universal Access to Information is set aside to promote the right for everyone around the world to seek and receive information. This is an important day in our calendar because it dovetails with the ministry’s mandate of ensuring the right to information and the right to freedom of expression. When citizens have access to information it means they are better informed and enlightened and subsequently this leads to informed decision making and healthy societies,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
She extended her gratitude to Unesco, the World Bank, Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa), Zimbabwe Association of Community Radios (Zacras), Transmedia and other stakeholders who have partnered with the Government establishing community radio stations.
Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Cde Abedinico Ncube said the commissioning of the Ntepe-Manama community radio station was a significant development for not only the Gwanda community but the entire province as well. He said access to information was key in development.
“This radio station comes at an opportune time when this part of the country has over the years suffered from an information gap due to lack of national radio signals. This station will therefore address this gap for our people who are in dire need of information on Government programmes that are beneficial to the community. Gwanda South is an area so much affected by natural disasters and cases of stock theft. I hope this community radio station will be instrumental in early warning for disaster risk reduction,” he said.
Interim Chief Nhlamba said the commissioning of the radio station was indeed a fulfilment of Government’s word that no place will be left behind in development. He said as the traditional leadership they were pleased by the development they were witnessing.
Government is committed to mainstreaming local languages and promoting sustainable development through establishment of community radio stations in formerly marginalised areas across the country.
BAZ under the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services has since 2021 issued 14 licences to community radio stations across the country, a move that is set to revolutionise communication dissemination to outlying areas normally not covered by mainstream media. — @DubeMatutu
Article Source: The Chronicle