IMPROVING COMMUNICATION WITH CRISIS-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)
maintains an official monopoly over radio and television broadcasting in
It operates four
radio stations which broadcast nationwide 24 hours per day on Short Wave and
quarterly Zimbabwe All Media Products and Services (ZAMPS) survey has shown a
decline in ZBC radio audiences in recent years.
The ZAMPS surveys
indicate that radio listeners are increasingly tuning in to foreign radio stations
instead or abandoning radio altogether for other media.
The ZBC radio
FM or SFM - This station was formerly known as Radio One. It
features music, current affairs of a social nature. Spot FM broadcasts
mainly in English. It is aimed at
a mature audience.
Zimbabwe - This news, music and
entertainment station was formerly known as Radio 2. It plays
a lot of Zimbabwean music. There
are news bulletins every hour and some current affairs programmes. Radio
Zimbabwe targets a general audience. It broadcasts in Shona, Ndebele and
FM - This music and entertainment station is
aimed at an urban youth audience. It was formerly known as Radio 3. It. During the early
2000s, Power FM mainly played African music. However, since then it has tended
to play much more British and American pop music. There are news bulletins on
the hour. The radio station makes heavy use of “Shinglish,” a vernacular mix of Shona and English.
Survey evidence shows that Power FM is the most popular FM station for urban
- National FM - This station, formerly known as
Radio 4, broadcasts mainly in Zimbabwe’s minority languages. These include Tonga, Venda, Sotho and Kalanga. National FM focuses mainly on
educational programming and is aimed at rural audiences. A perennially popular programme is “Bvunzai Tete” (Ask Auntie). This addresses health
and social issues. The presenter, who also produces the programme, is a trained
HIV/AIDS counsellor. Bvunzai Tete
provides an on-air dating service. It has been running for more than 10 years.
ZBC has regional correspondents based
in all 10 provincial capitals of Zimbabwe and radio production studios in Harare,
Bulawayo and Mutare.
However, much of its studio and transmission
equipment is old and obsolete.
Zimbabwe’s parliamentary committee
on the media and information technology said in a report cited by the media and
telecoms news website www.balancing-africa.com in June 2011, that ZBC radio broadcasts
covered less than 45% of the country.
The same report also said that
ZBC’s Bulawayo studios were in a particularly bad state of disrepair.
Transmedia Corporation, the parastatal
which runs Zimbabwe’s radio and TV transmission infrastructure, began a
programme of building new transmission masts in 2010 in order to extend ZBC’s
patchy national coverage.
In August 2011, Transmedia said on
its website that it operated 76 FM radio transmitter sites across Zimbabwe.
However, in August 2011, infoasaid
was only able to confirm the existence of the following 22 working FM
transmitter masts. Each one broadcasts all four ZBC radio services:
ZBC staff appointments are mainly
determined by the Ministry of Information.
Radio and TV news programmes give
maximum coverage to President Mugabe and his party’s activities. They are
always presented in a favourable light.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and his MDC party, on the other hand, are virtually ignored by the state
In May 2008, five ZBC journalists
were fired for “threatening national security” following their positive news
coverage of the election campaign of the MDC, which was then in full
In May 2010, ZBC refused to
reinstate the five journalists, even though by this time the MDC had by then
been a partner in government for more than a year and its leader was Prime Minister.
In its appeal before the
Arbitrator, Mwadziwa Chimhuka, ZBC said: "As a national broadcaster, we
have national interests to protect. When there are threats to these interests,
we are expected to protect them. The sending of the affected claimants on
forced leave was part of the endeavours to protect national interests".
ZBC celebrates the diversity of
Zimbabwean cultures and traditions, but shuns issues that are considered an
affront to tradition, such as homosexuality.
ZBC also tries not to inflame
tribal issues which are politically sensitive, particularly the divide between
the Shona and the Ndebele.
Thousands of people – mainly from
the Ndebele ethnic group – were killed during a military crackdown on
supporters of the opposition ZAPU party in the 1980s.
ZAPU, led by the late Joshua
Nkomo, had begun life as a rival nationalist guerrilla movement to Mugabe’s
Nkomo was an Ndebele and ZAPU drew
most of its support from Ndebele people in the Bulawayo area of South Western
It merged with Mugabe’s ZANU in
1989 to form ZANU-PF.
- Box HG 456