Date Posted: May 14th, 2012
Zenzele Ndebele is a Zimbabwean journalist based in Bulawayo, in the west of the country. He has written a number of stories for Farm Radio Weekly since our Southern African Bureau opened nearly two years ago. We asked him about the operating conditions for radio broadcasters in Zimbabwe, and how he views working with Farm Radio Weekly. He began by telling us about himself:
“I am a journalist by training, having gained a B.A in Media studies and an MSc in Journalism and media studies. I now lecture part-time in Radio and television studies at the University of Science and Technology. I grew up in rural areas and farming was always part of me. I am a farmer myself; my interest is in livestock farming.
“Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa which does not have independent radio stations. Although the country has been independent for 32 years, it is yet to liberalise the airwaves. Currently, there are only four state-owned radio stations and their signal is very poor, covering only half of the country. The country has one television station. Many rural areas in Zimbabwe do not have access to radio and television and listeners depend on radio stations from other countries or ‘pirate radio stations.’ These are radio stations that are owned by Zimbabweans but are run outside Zimbabwe and broadcast into the country on short wave. Currently there are four ‘pirate’ radio stations, namely Zimbabwe community radio (Zicora), Shortwave radio Africa (SW radio), Voice of the People (VOP), and Voice of America Zimbabwean channel (Studio 7).These broadcast for an hour or two on short wave every day in the evening.
“The technological wave which led to the rise of new media has helped Zimbabweans to bridge the information gap. A number of community radio stations exist in Zimbabwe, but they are not registered. One of them is Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, where I work as a Production Manager. Radio Dialogue is currently using alternative ways of sharing information with the community, mostly using social media platforms. Currently Radio Dialogue runs a citizen media project where people in rural areas send news to the station. We also send information to rural farmers using SMS. This information can be about cattle sales or markets that will be held in their area.
“Although I cover a number of issues as a journalist, I enjoy writing farming stories for Farm Radio Weekly … because in every story that I write there is something I learn from the farmers. There are a lot of things that we take for granted which matter a lot to the farmers − issues like the market to sell their produce, and the publicity so the authorities know that there are issues that affect them.
“Every time I approach a farmer for an interview, they are always cautious because they think I will ask them political issues. They become excited the moment I tell them [I] am writing a story for farm radio and it’s about their farming activities. The response I always get is that most journalists only come to interview them when they want to talk politics. They are not interested in what farmers do.
“Writing for Farm Radio Weekly has made me appreciate the value of a farmer and it has also helped me to put effort in my farming activities. There are a lot of people who want to do farming but they don’t have the information. I am privileged to have all the information I need and I have realized that farming is a very good way to empower local people so that they can support themselves financially and fight poverty.”
Production Manager, Radio Dialogue
For more information: www.zicora.com