PUBLIC STATEMENT: LACK OF RADIO RECEPTION VIOLATES HUMAN RIGHTS IN MATABELELAND

As we join the progressive international community to commemorate the 2016 World Radio Day today on the 13th of February 2016, we note with concern that 36 years after Zimbabwe’s independence, most rural communities of Matabeleland still dont have access to radio reception.

We note that there are communities in Beitbridge, Gwanda, Umzingwane, Matobo, Bulilima, Mangwe, Tsholotsho, Nkayi, Lupane, Hwange Victoria Falls and Binga districts that do not have access to radio reception and either rely on neighboring countries radios or shortwave radio.
In Matobo District for instance only a paltry 2 percent of the District’s population accesses radio.

The barriers to accessto radio are chief among them no radio signal in the areas at all, followed by poverty and political polarization.
Some communities who spoke to MIHR today observed that even though they are poor, if government provided reception, they can afford to acquire radio stations.

Lack of access to radio reception in Matabeleland violates constitutional and fundamental rights and freedoms that include right to access information, right to education, right to health, as well as right to life among other interlinked rights and freedoms.

We therefore:
1. Call on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission  to advise the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the right to information for the citizens of Matabeleland is prioritized through extending radio reception to all districts,
2. Call on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees of Human Rights and Information, Media and Communication to undertake joint tours to speak to the affected communities and advise government accordingly, as well as to sit down with the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Board to determine the cause of this problem,
3. Call on Members of Parliament from Matabeleland to ask the Minister of Media and communications when the affected people of Matabeleland will receive radio reception,
4. Call on the Zimbabwe Media Commission to investigate this issue and
issue a public report.
5. Further call on the relevant authorities to issue licenses to community radio stations in Matabeleland.

Access to radio is a basic human right to all Zimbabweans including the rural communities of Matabeleland.

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