Mkhululi Ncube and Leonard Ncube Bulawayo Bureau
THE Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) has licensed eight more community radio stations, three of them based in Matabeleland provinces, bringing to seven, radio stations that will go on air in the region.
BAZ is expected to provide the licensed community radio stations with studio equipment.
Among the latest eight stations to be licensed, the three from Matabeleland region are Radio Bukalanga (Pvt) Ltd (Bulilima), Matobo Community Radio Trust (Maphisa, Mangwe, Brunapeg) and Twasumbuka Community Radio Trust licensed (Binga, Kamativi, Siabuwa).
Other stations already licensed from Matabeleland region include Mbembesi Development Trust, trading as Ingqanga FM; Ntepe Manama Community Radio Trust, Shashe Community Radio Broadcasting Association and Lyeja- Nyayi Development Trust.
Radio Bukalanga representative Mr Sotsha Moyo said they were over the moon with the latest development.
"Bukalanga Radio Station means a lot to us as Kalangas. It provides us with great platforms to share developmental ideas. It provides us space to mingle and trace information lacking within us. The revival of our language which is almost dying will bring light," said Mr Moyo.
He said he has faith that the community will channel its energy like they have done with other big projects in building schools and clinics to realise this dream. Mr Moyo said the fact that they managed to meet the application requirements is testimony that they will meet all the requirements.
Matobo Community Radio Trust (Bayethe FM) chairperson Mr Zenzo Ncube said they are excited about the licensing as they had been waiting for a long time.
He said the area has for years remained without radio signals and the coming in of the community radio station is a relief.
"Getting a broadcasting licence for us is a major community development and achievement. Our community has had poor radio reception for a very long time. We hope to close that gap once we go live. We hope to be on air way before the deadline stipulated by BAZ," he said
Mr Ncube said the licensed area covers a 50km radius from Maphisa, Mangwe, and Brunapeg and will be broadcast in all languages found in the communities. He said preparations to start broadcasting began the day they submitted an application as they have set up financial projects to finance the operations.
Twasumpuka FM chairperson Mr Sam Sibanda said the station will help spur economic growth in Binga and bring dignity to the people as they will be broadcasting in Tonga.
He said they will be having a board members meeting today to map the way forward after getting the licence.
Mr Sibanda said they hope to meet BAZ officials next week.
"We have been using social media to create awareness about the station to the community and the business community so that they also participate. We have a business community who had offered to assist so everything will come from the meeting today," he said.
Ntepe Manama Community Radio head of content, Mr Mthabisi Tshuma said while waiting for the equipment from BAZ, they are using social media to broadcast in preparation for going on air.
Chairperson of Beitbridge Community Radio Mr Mekia Muyambo said they have secured a place to operate from and it has been inspected by an engineer from BAZ.
"What is left is for us to do renovations and once we are done, we will call them again for inspection. If they are happy then they will deliver the equipment," he said.
Lyeja-Nyayi Development Trust station coordinator Mr Thulani Munyandi, a journalist, said once Government provides the broadcasting equipment it will be easy for them to start broadcasting.
"Definitely we will meet the deadline as BAZ has already given us the frequency. The Trust has also set a management team that will oversee day-to-day operations of the station. The management has already opened a Facebook page where to commence broadcasting. This week the management and the trust will head pick just a few reporters to feed the Facebook page with news from the district," he said.
Munyandi said their major challenge is resources and appealed to the cooperate world to chip in and assist through their social responsibility programs.
He said they need to renovate the building which will house their studio.
Chief Ndondo of Mbembesi said they are still moving on with preparations for Ingqanga FM to go on air.
"I have been out of the country for some time and came back last week. We are working hard to put everything in place. Our major priority now is to get the broadcasting equipment. All our stakeholders are working hard to make sure we are ready," he said.
Chief Ndondo said they have secured the land for studios.
BAZ has since secured five sets of studio equipment for community radio stations and will procure more in the coming months.
BAZ acting chief executive Eng Matthias Chakanyuka said after licensing, the stations should be operational within 18 months, failure of which the licences will be automatically revoked as stipulated by the Broadcasting Services Act.
Eng Chakanyuka said they are working to secure studio equipment for the community radio stations.
According to law, all licensed stations must be on air within 18 months of getting their licence and Mr Chakanyuka said they will meet their side of the deal.
"On the issue of the deadline due to equipment availability, we do not think it is going to be a problem. The Government is in the process of acquiring the equipment and I can confirm that five sets of the equipment is already in the country. Three are from Unesco through its partnership with the Government and they have agreed to distribute it to the communities. BAZ has two sets of equipment which were bought using the broadcasting fund to make it five," he said
Mr Chakanyuka did not say who will benefit from the available equipment but said plans were at an advanced stage to procure more.