Media analysts last year raised concern when Zimpapers and journalist-cum-businessman, Supa Mandiwanzira’s AB Communications won the country’s first commercial private radio licence, as part of a drive to open the airwaves.
Part of the concerns were that the two institutions are closely linked to Zanu PF, which currently enjoys broadcasting monopoly, as the country’s national broadcaster, ZBC, is also biased towards the former ruling party.
Mandiwanzira has defended his project saying he is a professional, whose broadcasting record speaks for itself. It would seem employment of former ZBC staffers, Admire Taderera and Tich Mataz, to lead the Zimpapers’ Talk Radio team has fuelled the pessimism.
Article 19 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) prescribes the need for the opening up of the airwaves and ensuring the operation of as many media houses as possible.
Misa-Zimbabwe chairperson, Njabulo Ncube, said while the issue was not about personalities, media stakeholders expected that the reforms would give room to new talent.
“There are many community radio stations which have been training broadcasters, like Radio Dialogue and Zacras (Zimbabwe Association of Community Radio Stations) and we hope the reforms will give a platform to these professionals,” Ncube said.
“Some have said that ZBC has been the sole broadcaster where professionals were groomed, but the truth is community radio stations have groomed a lot of competent disc jockeys, newscasters and other broadcasters while ZBC taught its staffers partisan politics.
“Recycling the same people, together with the partisan manner in which the licences were given, equals cosmetic media reforms.”
Taderera says it’s too early to criticise
Taderera, who is the Talk Radio general manager, said it was too early for people to criticise them. “Why don’t people wait and see since the station will be on air soon,” he said. “I for one am a professional broadcaster with more than 25 years’ experience. I applied for the job because of my love for broadcasting. We cannot discuss how we intend to differentiate our content from that of ZBC because we have competitors out there who may use that information to their advantage.”
He added: “All I can say is that we are Zimbabweans, running a Zimbabwean station with Zimbabwean issues for Zimbabweans.”
Taderera said it was unfair for people to criticise them based on their employment history, as ZBC was the only institution which could employ most of the country’s broadcasters in the past 32 years.