Musician Oliver Tuku Mtukudzi is entirely exasperated after being denied a commercial private radio licence by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ).
Tuku is a director in Kiss FM that was seeking one of the two licences to operate a commercial radio station in a country where the state Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation dominates the airwaves.
“Our presentations (Kiss FM) at the public hearings for the interviews for the licences were absolutely substantial and convincing and the outcome that we have been denied a licence is very sad news. I am at a loss of words and disappointed,” Tuku told Radio VOP.
Nevertheless Tuku said he is not giving up on radio but would look into the option of a community radio station if and when the opportunity arises.
Artists were backing Tuku’s KISS FM in the hope that if the musician had been licenced the arts sector would have a voice and platform to speak out.
Artists said they do not have the voice they felt they deserved on the state-run radio and television channels and awarding Tuku a licence would have been empowering to the arts sector.
Music deemed critical of the authorities is banned and hard hitting interviews with artists are censored at the state broadcaster.
“Licensing Tuku would have empowered all artists and the entertainment and culture sectors but Mugabe (President Robert) knows pretty well that giving artists a radio licence would be arming the artists with a weapon to attack his bad governance,” said Muchaneta Sachikonye, a music teacher.
“Common sense would have been to issue the two contested licences to non-partisan people or companies. But look who got the licences – Supa (Mandiwanzira) a known Mugabe apologist and Zimpapers who are aligned to Mugabe and Zanu-PF.”
BAZ has awarded AB Communications and Zimpapers the two commercial private radio stations provoking rebuke from critics.
The MDC-T party’s spokesman Douglas Mwonzoro said the licences were meant to fool the Southern African Development Community (SADC) into believing that Zimbabwe was reforming the media in line with agreements by the principals in government.
By awarding licences to their own cronies Zanu-PF will just as before maintain a total grip on the electronic media with now six radio stations including the new entrants and two television channels at the disposal of their ruthless propaganda campaign.