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MISA-Zimbabwe statement on community radio initiatives
March 01, 2012

On 1 March 2012 The Herald carried a front page story titled: Gokwe quartet foils Misa's radio stations bid. The same story was featured in the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's news bulletins.

Allegations arising from the story are that MISA was clandestinely collecting signatures from people 'bused in' from various communities in its bid to 'create' community radio stations. It is further alleged that the signatories would be trustees that would run the radio stations.

Contrary to these allegations, MISA Zimbabwe hereby asserts and reaffirms that it has no intention of establishing community radio stations that operate outside the ambit of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA). MISA-Zimbabwe is very aware of the fact that the sole licensing authority is the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.

MISA- Zimbabwe is thus conversant and fully aware of the legal position pertaining to the licensing and setting up of radio stations.

The (BSA) recognises the provision of community broadcasting as part of the three- tier broadcasting system. It is in line with the spirit of this provision that the organisation sought to raise awareness through community radio initiatives that will prepare various communities to apply for community radio licenses in the event of BAZ eventually calling for applications for community radio stations.

Similar initiatives already exist in the country's urban areas and are known and recognised by the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity through the umbrella Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) which has in the past been granted audience by the same ministry.

As such the Notarial Deeds of Trust which are referred to in The Herald story are simply legal documents aimed at giving legal personality and an advanced state of preparedness to the various community radio initiatives. A Notarial Deed of Trust can be defined as a legal document that outlines the intentions and terms of an agreement that persons undertake in pursuance of a certain objective for the benefit of third parties or named beneficiaries.

There is nothing unlawful about communities preparing themselves for the envisaged eventual call for rural community radio licences. The process of registering these initiatives followed open consultative meetings that were held in the various communities themselves.

The Deeds in question do not in any way envisage the illegal setting up of community radio stations that will operate outside the confines of the law and before the BAZ calls for applications for the envisaged licences.

Ultimately, the decision as to which community or communities will be duly granted the envisaged licences is the sole prerogative of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.

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