THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has launched yet another radio station with signs the Zanu PF led government was not keen on opening up the country’s closely guarded broadcasting space to private players.
The Gweru based commercial station, Central FM hit the airwaves Friday afternoon.
Few knew of the radio station whose licencing was never open to the usual public interviews among prospective broadcasters wishing to operate radio stations.
Central FM covers a radius of 130km and can be accessed on 95.8 fm frequency in the Midlands Province.
ZBC CEO, Patrick Mavhura and other senior staff within the country’s broadcasting empire were on hand to see the project take off Friday.
However, despite the opening of a new radio station in a country with under-utilised broadcasting space, what is sure to dominate discourse is government’s continued insincerity in handling the contentious broadcasting question in the country.
Since the time of ousted leader Robert Mugabe, the Zanu PF led government has adamantly frozen out private players from the broadcasting space.
Stations run by individuals of known links to Zanu PF have been allowed more than a single commercial radio licence.
These include ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira’s AB Communications which operates a national station and two others in Masvingo and Gweru. Mandiwanzira is also a top Zanu PF official and legislator.
The other licences have been granted to ZimPapers which has always pursued a pro-government policy.
While government has never bluntly said it, it is strongly believed the system was not keen to see more independent voices occupy the broadcasting space which has a wider reach in the country than any other medium.
The opening of a new station follows the launch in March this year, of Bulawayo based Khulumani FM with eyebrows raised on why it had been granted a licence outside the normal process.
Zimbabwe’s community radio stations have been waiting on the sidelines for government to grant them licences but this has been in vain.
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services secretary George Charamba has in the past urged those pushing for the licencing of community radios to dump their “bigoted” approach and be “rational” about it.