WASHINGTON D.C. —
Nine months after being granted licenses by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, seven commercial radio stations are struggling to start operations with only one now on air.
The rest are failing to start broadcasting citing lack of capital to buy the necessary equipment.
The licenses were issued amidst controversy with some players and media watchdogs saying the process was skewed in favor of applicants with links to the ruling party.
The only radio station that has started operating is YA FM which is based in Zvishavane and is headed by former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Hwengwere.
Broadcaster John Masuku, whose application was turned down, told VOA the companies are failing to start operations because of the economic situation.
“Maybe in their forecast they did not envisage the fact that when they were formally granted licenses, it would be very difficult to take off because there would be a number of factors that they will have to consider in order to be viable; to be sustainable,” said Masuku.
The companies that were issued with licenses were given 18 months to start operating or risk cancellation. The firms have until next October to start operations.
Misa-Zimbabwe chairman Njabulo Ncube told VOA the media watchdog remains concerned with the manner in which the licenses were granted.
“While we applaud the fact that we now have new players in the broadcasting sector, we remain concerned by the manner in which this was done because we believe it was not done fairly,” he said.