"The official opening of Zongwe Fm has cheered the Sinazongwe Community"

On November 12th, the Sinazongwe Community on the Zambian shore of Lake Kariba had reason to celebrate the official launch of Radio Zongwe FM with the allocation of an operational license and frequency by the regulatory authorities.

The function was attended by IBA Director General, Ms. Josephine Mapoma, the Area Member of Parliament, Hon. Gift Sialubalo, the District Commissioner Mr. Nchimunya Siakole, the Council Chairperson, Mr. Siachibweka Cliff, the Executive Director for PANOS, Mr. Vusumuzi Sifile Sibanda, Sinazongwe Community Radio Board Chairperson, Mr. Andy Kampamu, The Chief’s Representatives, Members from the Private Sector, Heads of Departments and Members of Civil Society Organisations. A huge crowd joined the cheering with some Budima dancing and other musical performances.

The Sinazongwe Community Radio Board Chairperson, Mr. Andy Kampamu gave a brief background of Sinazongwe Community Radio Station:

"The Radio was established with the support of the Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association. In 2007 a Radio station was set up (at Sinazongwe Basic School) on a 100KW transmitter and on the frequency 105.0FM.  Later on some CDF funds were allocated towards the construction of a new Radio station building (on the Boma overlooking the Lake) which was completed in 2019.

However, originally the reception was so limited to only about 20 - 50Km not reaching the whole district not even crossing over the waters hence this called for another communication infrastructure in the year 2013 when the station sourced another transmitter from its partners and a 500KW transmitter installed making it possible to reach about five neighboring districts namely: Zimba, Kalomo, Choma, Pemba and Gwembe.

As I am talking to you now, the new Radio station has been allocated a new frequency of 103.8FM. The station draws its strength from the local content programming though flexible in the use of two languages: Chitonga (60%) and English (40%).

The station broadcasts from 06:00 - 22:00 hrs. daily and it has different programs whose main focus is cultural heritage, community development issues, climate change, health matters, governance, religious, current affairs, education, agriculture, youths/kids programs and entertainment.

Out of a total population which is over 110,000 in Sinazongwe district, according to the 2020 Zambia Statistical Agency projections, the Radio boasts of having 60% consistent listeners. Another interesting feature is that the Radio station is able to stream online.

The Radio is governed by a Board that is composed of 10 members. On the Management side, the Radio station has only one full-time employee the rest of the support staff are working on a voluntary basis.

The operations of the Radio station were not easy over the years, but we managed to forge ahead by interacting with various regulatory authorities in Lusaka; the efforts of the stakeholders and our efforts finally led to the issuance of an operational license and frequency allocation.

Allow me to end my speech by informing the Sinazongwe community members and the district at large that we are here to fulfil the manifesto we shared as a board that we will work to make sure that the station is back on air by complying to all statutory bodies that grants, renew, suspends and cancel license and frequencies for broadcasting services in an open and transparent manner, and that our management shall do the programing that will educate, entertain but to mention a few. This means that members of the community need to have a sense of ownership of this community radio in order to actively participate and contribute to the growth of the radio station."

A senior member of the community and former Chief's adviser Mr Louis Manje stressed in his contribution the importance of culture and cultural exchange for the development of the project and the community at large:  

"Sinazongwe community radio station came through cultural exchange with Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association. Allow me to mention that the Budima culture has a good history of contribution to development in our society. May I take this opportunity to encourage this generation to be rooted in culture because this equipment was through the interaction the late Royal Highness Chief Sinazongwe Mr. David Siantami Siankusule - may his soul rest in peace - had established with the Austria Zimbabwe Friendship association."

He went on to urge the Broadcasting Authority to lift some restrictions on the broadcasting coverage (like low power transmission and directional antennas) in order to reach out to the wider Sinazongwe area, adjacent districts and across the waters of Lake Kariba.

"My humble request to the IBA Director General, Ms. Josephine Mapoma is .. to allow our radio frequency to be accessed by our brothers and sister in Zimbabwe, reason being that the objective of this radio station was to bridge communication of the Tongas in Zimbabwe and us here in Zambia."

Peter Kuthan, on behalf of Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association posted via facebook: "Let me take this opportunity to congratulate the Zongwe FM Radio team, the board and the whole Sinazongwe community for this achievement. Please extend our best wishes to all dignitaries, authorities and honourable guests present. We note that Zongwe FM hereby is in a better position to serve the communication needs of the community and local authorities as well as NGOs and local business. At the same time we understand your concern that any limitations and restrictions of the range of the radio broadcasting should be overcome especially as far as your brothers and sisters across the River are concerned. To the contrary: It seems obvious that a close cooperation with the Community Radio initiative Twasumpuka CRS on the Binga shore of the lake would benefit the community development on both sides. We pledge our further interest, sympathy and support for Zongwe FM especially in terms of capacity building and further cultural exchanges across the waters and the continents."

The Executive Director of Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf), Mr. Vusumuzi Sifile Sibanda, another longterm partner in this project, also pledged further support and PANOS stressed the fact that "Radio is an important tool for information access and communication, and one of the prime drivers of development."

We join the Zongwe Fm family with Very Big Congratulations!