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Statement on Zimbabwe at 32
Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS)
April 18, 2012
ZACRAS joins Zimbabweans, in the country and abroad, in celebrating
32 years since the attainment of the country's independence.
The quest of
liberating Zimbabwe was borne out of the need to create a free and
independent nation, where Zimbabweans would be empowered to enjoy
their fundamental freedoms without fear or hindrance. As such, ZACRAS
pays tribute to every valiant individual, political party and organisation
which contributed towards the liberation of Zimbabwe.
As we celebrate
32 years of freedom from colonial bondage, ZACRAS remains cognizant
of the fact that Zimbabweans are now in a different kind of bondage.
This bondage being the infringement of their fundamental human rights
related to freedom of expression, association, assembly and access
to information .It is ZACRAS' view that, this infringement
is a clear violation and betrayal of the values that underpinned
Zimbabwe's struggle for independence.
It has been
more than 3 decades since Zimbabwe attained independence. However,
the broadcasting arena remains constricted as it presently only
comprises of the ZANU-PF mouthpiece, ZBC. It is through ZBC that
ZANU-PF has maintained its hegemony by squashing dissent and voices
which criticise its policies and ideologies.
Like the erstwhile
colonial Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) which was renowned
for propaganda, upon independence, ZBC inherited the same systems
and values which made RBC infamous for party propaganda, with the
only notable difference being the change in name and staff. Till
date, there have not been any reforms seeking to turn ZBC into a
true public broadcaster.
has been worsened by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe's
(BAZ) failure to holistically diversify the broadcasting arena.
In 2011, BAZ licensed Zimpapers' Talk Radio and AB Communications,
which are organisations believed to have ZANU-PF links. In a spirit
of promoting transparency and accountability, ZACRAS called for
rigorous scrutiny of the adjudication process, publicizing of the
qualifications and requirements which BAZ considered in awarding
licenses to the two successful applicants. However, this was not
Noting the development
agenda of community radio and the need to offer geographically marginalised
communities and languages such as Nambya a platform to be heard,
communities from various towns in Zimbabwe mobilised themselves
to form community radio Initiatives, with some of these initiatives
such as Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, being as old as 10 years.
It is however
saddening that till date, no community radio has been licensed.
This is more so in light of the existence of regions in Zimbabwe
which do not receive radio and television transmission, 32 years
later since the attainment of the country's independence.
As it stands, there is no clear indication of when BAZ will call
for community radio applications. Instead of operating according
to the whims of BAZ, ZACRAS believes that there should be the enactment
of mechanisms which stipulate the periods that BAZ should call for
applications and subsequently award licenses. This will enable Zimbabweans
to take BAZ to task if they fail to call for applications and award
licenses within the stipulated periods.
Upon the attainment
of independence, the then ruling party ZANU-PF inherited colonial
legislation and also enacted new ones. Presently, legislation such
as the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA), the Criminal
Law Codification and Reform Act (CLCRA) and the Interception
of Communication Act (ICA), litter Zimbabwe's media environment
and have adversely impacted on citizens' fundamental human
rights. Though these pieces of legislation were enacted under the
guise of seeking to protect state secrets, security and maintaining
public order, they have inadvertently been used to limit the kind
of information that citizens can access, criticism of government
policies and ZANU-PF as a party.
of these systems which encumber freedom of expression has culminated
in the media and citizens exercising self censorship. During those
instances that the media and ordinary citizens criticise certain
government proclamations and policies, they will either be harassed,
intimidated or detained. As a result, for fear of victimisation
and intimidation, Zimbabweans cannot outrightly criticise the government
and its policies, lest they be charged with undermining the authority
of the President or propagating information likely to cause alarm,
despondency and public disorder.
that Zimbabwe can never be truly free until its citizens have been
empowered through adequate information provision and the right to
freely express themselves without fear or favor. This way, accountability
and transparency will be enhanced as citizens will be able to actively
participate in governance issues without hindrance.
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