Tuesday, March 18, 2008

National association of community radios finds it’s feet

A national association of community radio stations, the Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations (ZACRAS), held its first substantive annual general meeting in Harare on 22 July 2007. ZACRAS comprises eight community radio initiatives that are based in eight Zimbabwean towns, namely, Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Kwekwe, Hwange, Kadoma and Masvingo. It is the brain child of community media activists who, since 2002, have been involved in a campaign for broadcasting diversity and the recognition of community radio as a critical freedom of expression/information tool. ZACRAS is the foremost advocacy initiative in Zimbabwe that has committed itself to community media activism through involvement in community based advocacy activities publicising the concept of community as an alternative to state controlled radio stations. The association has done this largely through road shows, audio cassette production, public meetings, press club discussions and agricultural show exhibitions. The current chairperson of ZACRAS, Mr. Christopher Mhike who also serves on the community radio Harare Initiative board has indicated that the organisation’s major focus for the next 12 months will, apart from road shows and other forms of public activities, be on capacity building through people-centered advocacy training, radio production training, gender mainstreaming and fundraising training. The ZACRAS Executive Committee which comprises Kudzai Kwangwari (Radio Dialogue Bulawayo) Howard Masaninga (Radio Kwelaz, Kwekwe), Chengetayi Murimwa (Kumakomo Community Radio Station, Mutare,) Munyaradzi Makoni (Ngabazwe, Gweru), Micah Zinduru (Wezhira, Masvingo), Nkosana Mpofu (Radio Hwange), Emmanuel Mavata (Kadoma) Kholiwe Nyoni and Sharon Sithole, (Radio Dialogue), has also accepted the need for an alternative democratic broadcasting law for Zimbabwe. In this instance the executive committee has agreed to work with MISA Zimbabwe in finalising the Alternative Broadcasting and Telecommunications Law, which will be used in the processes of lobbying the Parliament of Zimbabwe as well as civil society organisations. The Executive Committee is on record defining the current broadcasting environment in Zimbabwe as repressive due to Acts of Parliament such as the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and only recently, the Interception of Communication Act. In light of this repressive media environment, the Association has pledged to utilise ‘people-centered’ advocacy struggles. ZACRAS will work largely within communities, addressing community issues that relate to development and publicise these issues as far as is possible through alternative media strategies such as audio cassettes, road shows, drama shows and music festivals. ZACRAS Contact Details: Kudzai Kwangwari (Deputy Chairman) kudzai@radiodialogue.co.zwKholiwe Nyoni : khoenyoni@gmail.comSharon Sithole (Secretary): ssharrie@hotmail.com

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