Community radio stations provide a vital outlet to share information most relevant to where people live and what affects them most. But despite a 2001 law that established a licensing regime, the government has only authorized new licenses for groups aligned with the ruling ZANU-PF party. There is a critical need for marginalized communities to have access to information that promotes education, shared experiences, history, music and oral traditions.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental right Zimbabwe has recognized in both its constitution and as a signatory to several international human rights instruments. Stifling the voices of activists trying to serve both urban and rural communities is a denial of that right. But the government hasn’t stopped at just limiting licenses to their cronies. Because they are denied licenses, community radio groups hold meetings in the community where they discuss important issues such as local development concerns, information on HIV/AIDS, farming and local views on national debates. Police have disrupted these meetings, targeted staff for arrest and harassment, seized property, informational materials and shortwave radios and a station was even bombed in 2002.
Zimbabwe must implement a fair, simple and affordable licensing system that is equitable and not determined by political affiliation. You can send that message by taking action through our petition and by Tweeting on May 27th: