Office of Yoliswa Dube-Moyo Bulawayo
LOCAL languages must become mainstream and are essential to sustainable development promoted by the establishment of community radio stations in formerly marginalized areas across the country, a senior official said.
The Permanent Secretary for News, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr. Nick Mangwana, said that the use of the languages spoken by the audience of a community station ensures that their language, culture and customs are preserved and allowed to flourish.
In line with the decentralization policy, community radio stations give a voice to people who lack access to mainstream media, accelerate the dissemination of information, and support creative growth and democracy at the community level.
The decentralization policy is anchored on values and principles that guarantee equitable sharing of local and national resources, including strengthening the participation of local communities in decision-making processes.
Thus, the long-cherished dream of the Babirwa people in Manama, South Gwanda District, to have a local radio station broadcasting to SeSotho is finally coming to life as the community radio station in Ntepe-Manama is expected to go live early this month. next. .
Speaking after a workshop with presenters from the Ntepe-Manama community radio station in Manama yesterday, Mr Mangwana said the government was determined to integrate all languages.
“One of the things we do as a government is to integrate all the languages that were previously ignored or overwhelmed by other languages.
“This place is mostly Sotho speaking people and that’s the language that will be used primarily to communicate,” he said.
“Of course, other languages can be used so that no community member is left behind, but we need to make sure that SeSotho is used so that the language is integrated.
“Language is essential to the preservation of culture and customs, including food issues. If you can’t say it, you can’t do it. If you can’t speak it, you can’t practice it. So you have to have that expression of custom and tradition through that language.
Mr Mangwana said that in issuing community radio licenses, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority looked for stations that would use the language of the community where they operated.
“The first phase of BAZ in terms of licensing was actually language-based stations. We will have stations based on issues or different types of communities, but the first phase of licensing was based on language communities such as Tonga, Nambya, Kalanga, Sotho, Shangani, etc,” he said.
Mr. Mangwana said the government would support community radio stations in achieving their broadcast targets and ensure that they do not lose their licenses.
“We need this radio to be on the air before September 3rd.
“We are working hard to make sure that happens. Most of the equipment is already there. We have eight days left and those eight days will be respected,” he said.
“The government will help the community to comply with the law. It is extremely important to have a community radio in this region. A few months ago, a task force set up by the president visited the Mlambaphele border post.
“There were issues of cattle rustling, which is transnational in the sense that it affects Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana. One of the things that was cited as essential was having a radio and TV signal.
In this regard, Mr. Mangwana said having community radio stations is a step in the right direction as it reinforces President Mnangagwa’s mantra of “leaving no place and no one behind”.
“If this place received a signal only from South Africa and Botswana, it meant that this place had been left behind.
“This place is no longer left behind due to the driving force the President is using to bring development to every part of Zimbabwe, not leaving even a square mile of this underdeveloped country,” he said. -he declares.
Mr Mangwana said the Second Republic is committed to bringing development to Matabeleland South.
“We have the construction of the Tuli-Manyange dam here, we have the roads under construction, we are going to have the Beitbridge-Bulawayo road as the main main road and many other roads which are being rehabilitated and leveled,” he said. .
“It shows that no place is considered unimportant and that issues of marginalization will no longer be a challenge thanks to the leadership of the president.
“Moreso, his flagship policy of decentralization brings development to the people and by the people.
“It means that people in certain areas know what their priorities are. This radio is an initiative of the local community. The government was there to license through the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority, also to support and ensure its capacity.
One of the radio presenters, Mrs. Primrose Tlou, said that the Babirwa of Manama will finally have the opportunity to listen to local content in SeSotho through the community radio station Ntepe-Manama.
“I’m glad we can broadcast in SeSotho because growing up our kids learned in SeSotho,” she said.
“When they went to school, they were taught in Ndebele. SeSotho would only be spoken at home, but now we are happy that even when the children are playing and the elders are working in the fields, they can turn on the radio and listen to content in SeSotho.
The BAZ, which falls under the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, has since 2021 issued 14 licenses to community radio stations across the country.
Some of these awarded licenses are now operational, an initiative that should revolutionize the distribution of communication in outlying areas not normally covered by mainstream media.