Friday, December 3, 2021

Token opening of Zimbabwe’s broadcasting airwaves

Zimbabwe’s top musician, Oliver Mtukudzi, has teamed up with two businessmen and four former radio personalities to set up Hot Media, a private radio station to be called Kiss FM.

Mtukudzi, who is also a Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, has already registered Hot Media as a company and has applied to the government authorities for an operating license, along with three other companies.

Zimbabwe Newspapers, a government run company that publishes seven newspapers in the country, including ┬áthe country’s leading Herald daily is, among the other companies that want to launch a radio station.

This one will be called Zimpapers Talk Radio.

The other two companies that have applied for radio licenses are AB Communications and Vox Media Productions (VOP). AB Communications directors include Supa Mandiwanzira, a veteran broadcasting journalist with support from three other broadcasters. The fourth company that seeks to launch a radio station  and has been shortlisted  from 14 applications  is VOP that is led by veteran journalist David Masunda who has teamed up with two lawyers and a businessman.

The four companies are likely going to get licenses from the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority, BAZ.
The four prospective radio stations will partly open up the airwaves in Zimbabwe, where the government has had a monopoly for time immemorial.

But the monopoly will remain in the television sector where the state runs the sole broadcaster, the ZBC-TV which operates as if it is the public relations arm of President Mugabe’s Zanu Pf party.

Journalists and civil society have been calling for an opening up of the airwaves as one way of ensuring that  the country enjoys democracy, but Mugabe, whose support is waning, feels uncomfortable in opening up the airwaves.

Since 1980, Mugabe has used the state media, especially the broadcasting, to consolidate his position by ensuring that people hear and see only the positive side of Zanu PF.

ZBC-TV is headed by Happison Muchechetere, a former freedom fighter within Zanla, the military wing of Mugabe’s Zanu during the armed struggle.

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