The existence of external radio stations such as the Voice of America's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, SW Radio Africa and Voice of the People broadcasting into Zimbabwe has come under the spotlight as the debate on the prospects of broadcasting reforms continues.
Speaking at the Radio Broadcasting Conference taking place in Johannesburg, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, Jameson Timba, stressed the only solution to stop external radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe is to liberalize the airwaves and establish a true public broadcaster that is not going to be abused by a single political party.
The sole media broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has often been accused of being aligned to ZANU-PF and being biased against other political parties. Prospective broadcasters wishing to operate in Zimbabwe have failed to do so due to the unavailability of broadcasting licenses.
Timba blamed ZANU-PF for the continued resistance at efforts aimed to open the airwaves.
But Christopher Mutsvangwa, a member of the Zimbabwe Media Commission, also present at the conference, challenged Timba’s view on the existence of external radio stations arguing that they have a so-called western agenda.
Gerry Jackson, the founder of SW Radio Africa, disagreed arguing that the only reason why these radio stations are operating outside Zimbabwe is simply because ZBC has been given monopoly over the airwaves since 1980.
Media advocates have argued the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe is foot-dragging as it is yet to issue its first license despite the provisions of Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement calling for immediate issuance of broadcasting licenses.
Advocates say BAZ chairman Tafataona Mahoso's remarks in parliament that there was no equipment and money to monitor the new broadcasters, is casting further doubt on the government’s commitment to liberalize the airwaves.