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development, empowerment: Interview with Givemore Chipere, Community
August 20, 2009
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Inside / Out with Givemore Chipere
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was Community Radio Harare started?
Radio Harare started informally in 2003, when a group of journalists
and some concerned Harare residents came together after realizing
that there was not enough information for ordinary grassroots people.
So these concerned people came together and decided to come up with
a community radio station for the ordinary people of Harare. It
was more of an idea until 2006, when we got registered as a trust
organization. That's when we became more serious about the
issue of coming up with our own radio station.
community radio station who is your target audience?
Our target audiences
are the ordinary people, mostly in high-density suburbs, and of
course people in low-density suburbs.
sort of programming do you put together?
With the current
media set up, issues are taken on a national scale. But we realized
that there are so many interesting issues taking place in the grassroots,
in Kuwadzana, in Mbare. For example if we are talking about cholera,
if you got to Mbare there is cholera, but if you talk to the people
they have so many brilliant ideas about how to curb this scourge.
So our programs consist of those issues that are of concern to marginalised
media channels do you use to disseminate information and why?
At the moment
we are not yet broadcasting, we don't have a license. So we've
got a monthly newsletter called Talking Harare. The stories there
are written by very ordinary people. What we do here is to put their
ideas together and make them readable. We also do documentaries,
where we produce documentaries on topical issues of the day, where
we put them on CDs and DVDs and we distribute them to the ordinary
people. We also hold roadshows and community meetings. The way we
organize things is such that its like we are live on air. So people
can come in and discuss anything about refuse collection, about
the new constitution, about politics, about social issues, about
economics; people can discuss them at the roadshow.
has the response been to your newsletter, roadshows and community
I think the
response has been quite ok. But people here in Harare and in general,
are quite skeptical about this thing called radio. They think what
is this? Is this radio Zimbabwe? Who is the owner? Is it a government
thing? So at first we had problems because people could not understand
us. But because of our advocacy programs that we have been engaging
in, now people are beginning to appreciate what we are doing. There
is a lot of feedback. You realize that even in our Talking Harare
issues, most of the content are letters to the editor from the people.
People giving feedback on what they think about our CDs and also
our newsletter and roadshows.
your feedback, what issues have you seen most affecting people living
The major issues
are issues of service delivery. The issue of the current political
setup, people want to relate the failure by local authorities to
the political system. People have been very keen to speak on political
issues, especially the issue of the new constitution, what they
want to see in the new constitution.
mentioned earlier that you met with the Minister of Media Information
and Publicity, Webster Shamu. Can you tell me what the outcome of
that meeting was?
We met with
Minister Shamu yesterday; he was the one who called for that meeting.
He wanted to meet all community radio initiatives. It was more of
a consultative meeting. He wanted to find out how far we have gone
with the preparations for broadcasting. It was a very good meeting
because for the first time I think we have got recognition from
the government. It was recognition of the work we are doing, because
we also send him documentaries and newsletters. In that meeting
he promised us that the process of constituting the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe is going on and we are going to be invited
to submit our applications for broadcasting licenses. So it was
a very good meeting.
community radio station, what is your vision and mission?
Our vision is
that of wanting to see a Harare community that is informed and empowered.
People who are actively involved in communication, because we believe
that without communication then there won't be any development
in Harare. So our vision is to see an enlightened community, a community
that has access to information.
community radio station would you say you engage in activism?
Yes I think
we are, because by conscientizing people into realizing that they
can actually have their own radio station I think we are activists.
People really do not understand about this issue of radio. They
think radio is supposed to be state owned only. So now people are
beginning to understand that they can have their own radio station,
and by so doing we are involved in civil activism.
can people become involved with Community Radio Harare?
Because we are
a community project every Harare resident can become a member. Those
who want to become a part of Community Radio Harare are free to
come to our offices and fill out some membership forms. But what
we have also done is that we have set up community advocacy committees
in most high-density suburbs. So in each of those areas, say in
Budiriro, Epworth or Mabvuku, there is a Community Radio Harare
Constituency Advocacy Committee. That is a committee that we have
empowered to market this idea of community radio. Those people have
got membership forms there at grassroots level. So if people are
interested, they can either go to the constituency advocacy committee
in your area or you can come here to our offices and you can fill
in a membership form.
are at 66 5th St corner Livingstone Ave in Harare. Our postal address
is P O Box 9247 Harare and our email is email@example.com.
Our contact numbers are 04-290 6084. Our cell phone numbers are
0912 886 969 and 023 782 323.
challenges do you face in operating?
There are so
many challenges. Some are to do with finance problems. We survive
on donations from members and other interested individuals and organizations.
But because of the current economic environment at national level
and the global recession issue, we find we have got problems of
finance. Then the other problem we are facing is that of equipment,
having enough and adequate equipment to carry out our duties. To
be there when there is a burst sewer in Highfields, it takes us
time to go and board a combi. There'll be an accident and
you can't get there on time. And even the general political
environment where you are not very sure, you are afraid that if
you are seen video-filming a burst sewer pipe, you are afraid that
you are going to be arrested and all those things. So it makes our
job more difficult because of this environment.
you faced harassment from the authorities?
We have not
faced any serious harassment from the authorities. But maybe from
some informal groups like when you are holding a roadshow in Kambuzuma,
and people are speaking about the constitution and then someone
comes and says but what are you doing. But we have not received
any serious harassment from state security agents, no. What we do
is that, when we have our roadshows, our community meetings and
even our documentaries, we submit copies to the authorities so that
they are aware of our existence. Most of them actually support us
because even the police realize the importance of having a community
radio in Harare. They are involved in fighting crime so if there
is no vehicle for communication with the people how can they fight
crime without such a vehicle. We are happy that even the police
are beginning to realize the importance of having a community radio
station for Harare, because they realize that they are also an integral
part of the community.
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