WASHINGTON DC —
The Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday launched a community radio station, Radio Chiedza, in Harare.
This comes a few days after the launch of a new Daily newspaper the Zimbabwe Mail. Media watchdogs have welcomed the development saying this signals an opening of the media landscape.
Radio Chiedza joins dozens of other community radio stations that are awaiting licenses from the government to start broadcasting.
There are more than 20 community radio initiatives that have been set up. Six of these have studios already established, waiting only for government to loosen its tight grip on the airwaves.
Speaking at the station’s launch on Wednesday night, Archbishop of the Catholic Church (Harare), Right Reverend Robert Ndlovu, blamed the failure to grant broadcasting permission to the ruling elite's obsession with controlling diverse voices.
"So far, none of these community radio stations have been licensed to broadcast in this country, but our neighbouring countries have numerous such stations up and running. It therefore seems inevitable that Zimbabwe will, at some time, catch up; so we in the Catholic Church need to be prepared for that day," said Archbishop Ndlovu.
Chairman Njabulo Ncube of the Media Institute of Zimbabwe said they welcome the expansion of the democratic space.
“Our wish has always been to see the growth of a plural media that is non-aligned to any sector of the community,” said Ncube.
Spokesman for the initiative, Father Nigel Johnson, told Studio 7 they will broadcast community-based stories for the greater Harare area if they are granted a license.
Meanwhile the editor of the newly- launched Zimbabwe Mail, Constantine Chimakure told Studio 7 that although their editorial stance is not to report mostly on negative developments in the country they will not shy away from graft and scandal.
“The main thrust of the newspaper is to celebrate the successes of the country,” said Chimakure.