In what has been claimed to be the end of a 32 year old media monopoly by the government owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, (ZBC), a new so called privately owned radio station, Star Radio, began casting its waves across the country on Monday.
Star Radio which for more than 7 months after obtaining a license, battled to set up business, was awarded broadcast permission last year by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, although its arrival into the airwaves raised mixed feelings among supporters of privately owned media.
The company at a long arm’s length is allegedly controlled by the government of Zimbabwe while in public a claim is upheld that it is privately owned by the Zimpapers company that controls state print media newspapers, Herald, Chronicle. Zimpapers is controlled by the government.
Furthermore, the General Manager, Admire Taderera, is a long serving ZBC manager and journalist who has worked for the ZANU PF controlled media since the early 1980s. Critics have claimed that hiring Taderera demonstrates how ZANU PF will control the social and political programming at the station.
When it was licensed last year, Star Radio was then named as Zimbabwe Talk Radio, but a change of name to the former was later made though without an explanation.
The other radio station which obtained licensing is run by former ZBC, Al Jazeera and SABC TV news reporter Supa Mandiwanzira, named as ZiFM, is still to announce a launch date. Mandiwanzira on Monday however stated: “The launch is imminent. The latest would be August, but I expect us to begin broadcasts in July.”
Mandiwanzira said he would also stream online and was currently engaged in seeking authorisation from the broadcasting authority for that purpose.
The licensing for both radio stations has been criticised as an alleged plot by ZANU PF to falsely display the entry of a private broadcaster to Zimbabwe’s airspace.
A Bulawayo based activist, Zenzele Ndebele, was critical of the development as he stated:”May I remind Zimpapers radio that there is nothing independent about a state owned radio like them…”