HARARE – Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo’s media charm offensive has already started to bear fruits after Community Radio Harare withdrew a High Court application which sought to compel the government to call for applications for community radio stations.
In withdrawing the High Court application, Community Radio Harare says it has softened its stance because of Moyo’s seeming goodwill towards media pluralism.
Moyo has made a whirlwind tour of media houses, both public and private, winning kudos as he has promised to work towards opening up the electronic media.
Pius Wakatama, the board chairperson of Community Radio Harare, said they were considering reversing their decision by withdrawing the court petition.
“This has been so because of the kissing and hugging we have seen the new Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo is doing with the civic society,” Wakatama said.
“After withdrawing the case we are going to reapply for a licence which we hope the government would grant us.”
In 2011, during the turbulent tenure of the coalition government, Community Radio Harare filed a court application seeking a relief to have its broadcasting licence request considered by the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) as well as an order compelling the regulatory board to call for broadcasting licence applications.
The application was made by Wellington Pasipanodya, a member of MISA Zimbabwe’s Media Lawyers Network, with the support of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
Community Radio Harare was arguing that it has not been able to apply for a licence since Baz has not called for broadcasting licence applications since 2004 and that the authority’s failure to call and issue licences “is on its own an illegality and must be justified.”
In Sadc, Zimbabwe fares poorly in terms of broadcasting with only a single independent commercial radio station.
This is despite the fact that the landlocked country was the first to introduce the services in 1958.
Several community radio stations, which include KissFM, Voice of the People (VOP), Radio Dialogue, Kumakomo, Wezhira and Kwelas, are also eyeing broadcasting licences.