The World Radio Day, billed for tomorrow (13 February), is expected to open old wounds; one of the contentious issues is why Botswana 46 years later has no community radio stations.
“As we are commemorating World Radio Day, the controversial issue of community radio stations will be discussed from a constructive perspective,” said Phenyo Butale, National Director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA). “Community radio stations play an important role in nation building and can benefit Botswana’s fledgling democracy,” he said.
Since the first broadcast over 100 years ago, radio has proved to be a powerful information source for mobilising social change and a focal point for community life. In recognition, UNESCO announced 13th February as World Radio Day.
UNESCO has noted that radio is a “low cost medium, specifically suited to reach remote communities and vulnerable people”. Radio is a free and accessible platform, it plays a crucial role in promoting development, improving livelihoods and supporting access to education.
Butale said it is important to have information channeled to the people through any means and the radio is a very good and fast medium of communicating with the communities on developmental issues.
“Community radios contribute to the development of the country,” said Butale.
Countries such as South Africa have different radio stations, broadcasting in different languages to cater for various ethnic communities for easy information flow.
“We continue to encourage an open and democratic society in which the media provides an opportunity for freedom of expression on matters of governance. Radio plays an important role in this process, as it gives citizens a chance to speak for themselves on matters that affect them daily,” he said.
Botswana is lagging behind in the SADC region as regards the existence of such stations.
“This is another way of expanding our democracy and enlarging citizen participation, Broadcasting is by far the most important source of information for most people around the world,” he said.
MISA Botswana will hold a series of activities to mark World Radio Day. It has organized a march and a short official program in Lobatse, where radio started in Botswana. There will be a public march starting from Newlook Primary School grounds to Peleng grounds in the morning.