The Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS) expresses its concern over the continued extension of deadlines for the submission of community radio applications.
In a statement released on the 26th of May 2020,the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) advised the public of a new deadline extension set for 31 July 2020.The latest extension comes after another extension which saw the initial submission deadline being moved from the 20th of March 2020 to 29 May 2020.
Whereas ZACRAS acknowledges the challenges which may have culminated from the Covid-19 lockdown as cited in the BAZ statement, although not in detail, it is our conviction that the Authority should have made alternative submission arrangements for prospective applicants.
Alternative arrangements could have encompassed organising centralised Provincial dropoff points, facilitating travel letters for prospective applicants needing such assistance and exploring options of using a digitalised application process via post office internet facilities and community information centres set up by the Ministry of Information Communication Technology Postal and Courier Services.
The Covid 19 pandemic brings to the fore the urgent need for the licensing of community radios so as to facilitate localised information dissemination using local languages. Resultantly, Government should not delay the process for longer than is necessary.
ZACRAS therefore implores BAZ to reverse its decision as extending the deadline by a further 2 months is unwarranted and without just cause in light of the alternative options that can be explored.We therefore call upon BAZ to instead place the deadline extension to 30 June 2020,which is similar to that of national commercial television broadcasting stations.
ZACRAS also takes this opportunity to congratulate the Great Zimbabwe University for being the first tertiary institution set to be issued with a campus radio license.This development will go a long way in not only ensuring access to information by students but also ensuring that broadcast journalism students acquire first hand practical experience in using broadcasting technology.
Access to information remains important to citizens and should be prioritised in seeking to promote the broader development agenda of Zimbabwe.
Source: Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS)