This is an excerpt from the thesis "Media and the Empowerment of Communities for Social Change - Chapter Five: Participatory and development communication in Zimbabwe".
5.0 Results of the case studies and qualitative interviews
This chapter focuses mainly on the results from the qualititative data analysis. It is divided into three sections. The first section is the case study of the Development Through Radio Project, which was founded by the Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter. This is followed by the case study of Africa Women Filmmakers Trust which runs two media programmes, the Access to Media Programme and the Participatory in Production Programme. These two case studies have an empowering component as one of their major aims. I looked at empowerment in this research in terms of rights, choices, enfranchisement, consultation, participation and power. The last section is the results of the analysis of the data obtained from media practitioners working in various development organisations in the country.
5.1 Case study of the Development Through Radio Project
This case study shows how the democratisation of radio could be achieved through giving a voice to the voiceless and the importance of a two-way communication in broadcasting for development. The question addressed in this section is to what extent participatory radio production contributes to the empowerment and advancement of women and the marginalised communities. It also looks at how community interests, needs and concerns are served by this media.
The case study of the Development Through Radio Project (DTRP) is based on information collected during unstructured in-depth interviews with the project personnel, the founder member, board members, participants of the project, observations of four radio listeners clubs, articles (see table 5.1), documents, annual and general reports (see table 5.2)
. Table 5.1 List of interviews and observations (DTRP)
Source of Data: Dube G.
Type of Data: -In depth interview
Organisation: Musasa Project
Position / Status: Project Information Officer
Date recorded: February 2001
Source of Data: FAMWZ (members)
Type of Data: -personal communications (eg. telephone interview)
Position / Status: members
Date recorded: 2000 / 2001
Source of Data: Gabriela
Type of Data: -personal communications
Position / Status: Employee / Officer
Date recorded: 2001
Source of Data: Gunduza
Type of Data: -in-depth interview
- personal communications
Position / Status: Co-ordinator (Mashonaland)
Date recorded: March 2001
Source of Data: Matenhabundo S.
Type of Data: -in-depth interview
Position / Status: Librarian
Date recorded: November 2000
Source of Data: Mhonda E.
Type of Data: -in-depth interview
Position / Status: Co-ordinator (Mashonaland)
Date recorded: December 2000
Source of Data: Moyo M.
Type of Data: (interview:a) -in-depth interview
(interview:b) -transcribed video interview (1998)
- personal communications
Position / Status: Founder member
Date recorded: February 2001
(video recorded 1998)
Source of Data: Mukwena D.
Type of Data: -personal communications
Position / Status: National Director
Date recorded: 2000
Source of Data: Radio Listeners Club (members)
Type of Data: -short interviews
Organisation: RLC's (Zhakata RLC, Zvanakiresu RLC, Batsiranayi RLC and Mutsvairo RLC)
Position / Status: Members
Date recorded: April 2001
Table 5.2 List of documents and archival materials (DTRP)
Documents and Archival materials (published and unpublished)
Appropriate communications in Development: Workshop Proceedings: ITZ 1995.
Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ) Annual Report covering October 1997 to September 1999. (unpublished).
Mukwena, D. S. (2000). (unpublished). Federation of African Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ)
Report on the Gender Media Monitoring Project (undated and unpublished article of FAMWZ).
Moyo, M., (2001). (unpublished). The Development Through Radio (DTR) Concept in Zimbabwe. A paper presented to a DTR Training Workshop in Mozambique, 8 - 9 February 2001, sponsored by FAMWZ - SADC in collaboration with HIVOS.
Moyo, M., & Quarmyne, W. (1994). (unpublished article). The Development Through Radio (DTR) Project (Zimbabwe) - A Communication and Development Model.
I was able to get a clear picture of the historical background of the project from the two hours unstructured interview I conducted with Mavis Moyo, the 1998 video recorded interview of Mavis Moyo and an unpublished document of which Mavis Moyo was a co-writer. I inquired from the current members of the Federation of Africa Media Women about the background of the project but they constantly referred me back to Mavis Moyo. I failed to access most of the individuals from institutions, which had closely worked with Mavis Moyo and those who had been involved in the establishment of the DTRP to get their side of the story as they had either retired, moved to other institutions or were now living abroad. This part of the case study is therefore dependent heavily on information from Mavis Moyo.
5.1.1 Historical Background
The Development Through Radio Project (DTRP), a brainchild of The Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter, was launched as a pilot project in 1988. The aim of the Development Through Radio Project (DTRP) is to show how radio has been used with rural women to communicate developmental information in Zimbabwe. It was founded by Mavis Moyo, when she was the Chairperson of the Federation of Africa Media Women-Zimbabwe Chapter. During one of the many telephone conversations I had with Mavis Moyo during this research, she pointed out that some of the members of the Federation of Africa Media Women had protested by walking out of the meeting room when she introduced the idea of forming radio listeners clubs. They failed to see what an organisation, which was meant to promote the status of media women, wanted to achieve through the establishment of the DTRP. However, since the majority of the members supported the initiative, it was agreed that the DTRP would be one of the projects of the Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter.
Mavis Moyo approached the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Friedrich Ebert Foundation, UNESCO, Association of Women's Clubs, Audio Visual Services and the Polytechnic School of Journalism who all agreed to support the initiative. She approached these institutions in her capacity as the chairperson of the Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter since it had adopted the idea. Friedrich Ebert Foundation agreed to supply the material resources and the salary for the Producer/Co-ordinator through the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. UNESCO, Audio Visual Services and the Polytechnic School of Journalism agreed to supply the relevant information that was required in the design of the project. It was hoped that the DTRP would give some of the trainees of the School of Journalism an opportunity to learn more about development journalism by being attached to the project during the course of their studies. The Producer was to be tasked with the responsibility of the day to day running of the project and liasing with the monitors who were the representatives of the Radio Listeners Club (RLC) members. The diagram below shows the stages and the different parties who were involved during the establishment of the DTRP (Moyo (a) and (b), interview data).
Diagram 5.1 Institutions and individuals involved in the formation of the DTRP
The monitor was a member of the Radio Listeners Clubs.
5.1.2 The Beginning of FAMWZ
In 1957 a group of Pan African Women met in Kenya to deliberate on the status of media women in the region. Mavis Moyo informed me that the consultative meeting hoped to explore how the situation could be redressed. It was proposed to establish women media associations in the participating countries. This led to the establishment of the Federation of Africa Media Women - Zimbabwe Chapter(FAMWZ), in 1985. In 1991, the Pan Africa Media Women Project was launched in Zimbabwe to spearhead the rights of media women. The Pan African Media Women Project failed to take off (Moyo (a), interview data).
After the failure of the Pan African Media Women Project, Zimbabwe media women felt that they could still continue to champion for women's rights and equal employment opportunities in the media as the Federation of Africa Media Women - Zimbabwe Chapter. In the Development Through Radio Project document (Moyo & Quarmyne, 1994), it was stated that the Zimbabwean Media Women strongly felt that their contribution in the sector was not being recognised. Among the media women themselves, there was a need to conscietise themselves to the negative portrayal of women in the media (Moyo & Quarmyne, 1994). Not only were media women marginalised, it was observed that women's issues were hardly highlighted in mainstream media and rural women were virtually ignored. There was a necessity for other media, which would address this gap.
In 1988, The Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAMWZ) looked at ways media and the means of production could be made more accessible to the ordinary citizens particularly rural women. This led to the launching of the DTRP. Its main objectives were to promote a two-way communication and introduce a bottom up approach to radio broadcasting (Moyo (a), 2001).
The justification for the launching of the DTRP was based on the assumption that the gross imbalance in access to resources including media, in rural Zimbabwe, favoured men. The assumption was that women did not have equal access to resources and media. The Federation of Africa Media Women - Zimbabwe Chapter (FAMWZ) wondered how media could be used to boost development and to promote greater access to other resources particularly among rural women. Traditional media that had been important during the pre-colonial era had since been destroyed (Moyo & Quarmyne, 1994:4). Where it existed, it was said to be more localised and served only community local needs. It was also said to be having little utility for the exchange of information and meaning with the outside world that was needed to catalyse, maintain and promote rural development. It was believed that among other technologically based mass media, only radio had the capacity for rural out-reach.
The arguments for the positive potential of radio for rural development are well known and are summed up in its ability to overcome barriers, whether of distance, lack of infrastructure (such as roads and /or electricity) and illiteracy. ZBC's radio signal cover 90% of the country. Of its four services, two – Radio 2 and 4 – broadcast in the various national languages and have a particular concern with rural communities. Moreover, Radio 4 was established in 1982 expressly as an education and development channel. Hence, radio in Zimbabwe offered three big pluses: extensive coverage, appropriate languages and a suitable mandate (Moyo & Quarmyne, 1994:5).
In 1988, the DTRP was launched.
5.1.3 Mavis Moyo the founder of the DTRP
Mavis Moyo, the founder member of the DTRP was initially a teacher by profession and one of the founder members of many women's organisations during the 1950's and 60's, among them The Young Women Christian Association and Yamuranai Women's Club. Yamuranai means, 'Help each other'. These projects were meant to improve the status and well-being of women.
While Mavis Moyo was teaching in Kwekwe, she befriended a nurse who believed that many of the ailments affecting children could be avoided if mothers had basic education in hygiene. Mavis on the other hand had observed that a number of the children in school were malnourished. Mothers of these children could be encouraged to form clubs instead of sitting behind houses playing with beads (Moyo (a), interview data). As a group, they could be educated on hygiene issues as well as engage in income-generating initiatives. During that period, Mavis said that she yearned for the means of addressing issues of poverty and ignorance on a larger scale. When an opportunity arose at the Radio Station, she applied and got the job as a part-timer, latter she left teaching to become a fulltime broadcaster (Moyo (a and b), interview data).
The initial task for Mavis was to produce and present the Radio Home Craft Club Programme. This Radio 2 Programme, complemented efforts by the Anglican Church, Salvation Army, Roman Catholic Church and other institutions, which were geared at improving the status of African women. The above institutions ran one-year courses on hygiene and skills training for women. These were not very popular since women had to leave their families for a year. Not many rural women were therefore able to benefit from these initiatives.
During this period, Mavis said that she liked the British Broadcasting Corporations Woman's Hour radio programme. She proposed to her boss to launch a local programme on similar lines to the Woman's Hour programme, a proposal that was later taken on board.
According to Mavis Moyo, the Radio Home Craft Club Programme broadcast on Tuesdays in Mashonaland and Fridays in Matabeleland was not properly structured. Her first mission was to structure it so as to sound like a real club on air. The restructured programme would start off with music, followed by the presenter who would brief the audience on what was to follow in the programme. The Chairperson would say a word of prayer after which members would deliberate on some issues. This was followed by news from other areas and lastly the lesson for the day.
During that period, 'It was a time of awakening' said Mavis Moyo during the face to face interview which was confirmed by the video recorded interview of 1998. Communities were realising that they could change their lives if they took the initiative she said (Moyo (a and b), interview data).
At the broadcasting station, Mavis Moyo said that they had many resources at their disposal. Zimbabwe, was a member of the Federation that comprised Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia then known as Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia respectively. Zimbabwe, then known as Southern Rhodesia was the headquarters of the Federation hence the abundant resources at its disposal. This enabled them to go frequently to rural areas to do recordings. Unfortunately at the time, blacks were not allowed to stay in hotels. Mavis had to remain mingling with the rural communities. She recalled,
Those recording sessions in an area were big events. It was a time of awakening. People had a thirst for knowledge. They would come in big numbers. It was also a form of entertainment. The very fact that they would come face to face with people from a broadcasting station, to them, it was something important and entertaining. To me, it was a great opportunity to find out from the audience themselves whether broadcasting really served any purpose (Moyo (a), interview data).
Rural communities, particularly women, felt that radio was not addressing issues of importance and concern to them. Radio could play an important role if the needs and aspirations of people were fulfilled. Mavis Moyo recalled during the face to face interview that I tape recorded, conversations she had had with some members of the community during one of her recording session in the rural areas during the 1960's.
Participant: Today Mrs Moyo, I am going to tell you the truth.
Mrs Moyo: What truth?
Participant 1: We like the radio because it teaches us a lot of things but there are certain things we don't want.
Mrs Moyo: What are they?
Participant 1: Ok, we grow sunflower. We sell it to manufacturers. They go and make oil. We buy the oil from the shops very expensively. Please teach us on radio how to make oil.
Mrs Moyo: Fine, I will go and talk to the experts and we will teach you how to make oil on radio.
Participant 2: Our children come from school with dirty uniforms. We buy soap very far from here. Sometimes one has to board a bus to go and buy soap. Please, teach us on radio how to make soap.
Mrs Moyo: Well, that is fine. We will do that.
Participant 3: We want to learn new ways of cooking vegetables, sugar beans and all the other things we grow so that we make food that is appetising. (Moyo (a), interview data).
According to Mavis Moyo, during the 1960's, the approach to broadcasting was top down or vertical communication. Producers would work out from their offices what topic to cover and the contents of the programme. Communities were never consulted. If there was an outbreak of malaria, a programme would be put on air telling communities what not to do and what to do and how to do it. The same applied when there was an immunisation campaign. Communities whose children were to be immunised were never consulted said Mavis Moyo. She was against this top-down way of communicating because she felt that it stifled other people's voices (Moyo (a), interview data).
Having read some publications on the Radio Forum in West Africa and conversations she had had with women during recordings, Mavis Moyo said that these had inspired her. She believed that the condition of rural communities could be changed if broadcasting was reformed. She therefore recognised the need to change the approach to broadcasting so that people's interests and concerns could be taken on board. People's involvement was important if broadcasting was to serve its role effectively.
The people at the grassroots knew their condition and they could do something to improve them (Moyo (a), interview data).
Programmes addressing issues of concern and interest to people started to feature. These programmes were on health, agriculture and social issues. Women would write and make requests. Mavis Moyo recalled during the interview reading a letter from one of the women saying,
My neighbour keeps Turkeys. Towards Christmas, whites come and buy them. She gets lots of money. I have tried to keep Turkeys but mine die when they are six weeks old. What can I do? (Moyo (a), interview data).
As the Producer and Presenter of this programme, Mavis Moyo invited an agriculturalist to speak on radio about how to keep turkeys. The agriculturalist also advised the woman to go and see the local agricultural extension officer in her area, a Mr. Dube, for more information and practical advice (Moyo (a and b); Mhonda, interview data). A year latter, Mavis Moyo recalled during the interview receiving a letter from the same woman thanking her for the information. She was now keeping turkeys and was getting a lot of money. Her life had since transformed. This inspired her to start radio documentaries and latter radio dramas. She believed that radio dramas were interesting, entertaining and educational to the audiences. The radio dramas would sometimes focus on personal hygiene issues and hygiene in the home (Moyo (a), interview data).
I produced and presented a radio drama programme called Ezika Tom. It was in Ndebele and many people liked it. It was a weekly programme, which was phased out at Independence. At that time there was a lot of suspicion between Shonas and Ndebeles. (Moyo (a), interview data).
In 1992 in recognition of her work in radio drama, Mavis Moyo was awarded a scholarship to attend a course on radio drama in the Netherlands.
As Mavis's career in broadcasting was coming to an end, she realised that she had not done enough in terms of development. She believed that radio could be used in other more innovative ways to transform lives of many people. People in rural areas had limited access to media, including radio. They were too poor to own one or to maintain it. There had to be ways of improving access to media among rural communities. Radio listening clubs could be the answer. Moyo started to explore ways of establishing radio listening clubs on similar lines with the ones in West Africa. The School of Journalism, Ministry of Information, the Association of Women's Clubs, Audio Visual Services and UNESCO supported the idea. Fredrich Ebert Foundation, which was helping government to establish the educational radio channel, Radio 4, agreed to support the initiative by giving material and financial resources that were required to enable the project to take off. In 1988, the DTRP, which is the oldest project of the Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAMWZ), was launched, with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Station as the senior partner.
5.1.4 Founding Partners of the DTRP
126.96.36.199 Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
The Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAMWZ), approached the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) requesting it to be a partner in the Radio Listening Clubs Project (RLCP). The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) agreed. During the early 1980's, the broadcasting stations agenda was in line with government policy, encouraging development through information (Mohonda; Gabriela, interview data). Since ZBC had the means of production it emerged as the senior partner hence the appointment of co-ordinator from among the corporations personnel. The co-ordinator was responsible for the co-ordination and implementation of the project. During this period, broadcasting was still a male domain. Mr. Mhonda, a broadcaster who had worked closely with Mavis Moyo at ZBC before she retired was appointed as the co-ordinator of the project. The project was named Development Through Radio Project (DTRP).
188.8.131.52 Friedrich - Ebert - Foundation
During the pre-independence era, not much was done to improve access to developmental and educational information particularly in local languages (Gabriela, personal communication, 2001). Gabriela who was one of the staff at Friedrich- Ebert Stiftung (FES) sometimes represented FES during meetings with ZBC and FAMWZ. She said that during this period, 1980's, English was the main language used in disseminating developmental information in the country. Illiteracy levels were very high among the local people. Government policy was the improvement of access to information in local languages. Education was seen as the most important tool if development was to be realised. Government introduced a policy of free primary education for all and proposed the establishment of a radio Educational Channel, which was to be used for informal education (Gabriela; Moyo (a), interview data). Friedrich- Ebert Stiftung (FES) agreed to help government to establish the educational radio channel, Radio 4. It was during the establishment of Radio 4 when the DTRP was initiated. FES's interest was the establishment of a two-way communication model with grassroots women. According to Gabriela, then working for FES at the time, 'being involved in this project was a way of promoting democratic principles' (Gabriela, personal communication, 2001). FES supplied the material resources, that was equipment, transport, as well as the salary for the co-ordinator. These resources were channelled through the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation. In 1990 after the expiry of the contract between FES and ZBC, the DTRP continued. The project was then funded by ZBC and other donors through the FAMWZ (Mhonda; Moyo, interview data).
184.108.40.206 Federation of Africa Media Women
The Federation of Africa Media Women as the initiator of the project was responsible for organising and making sure that the project could sustain itself as well as look for funds for the radio sets, batteries as well as help in the co-ordination of the project (Moyo (a ), interview data). It is however important to acknowledge that radio listening clubs were in existence in Zimbabwe prior to the launching of the DTRP which Mr. Mhonda argued should be considered as just a 'radio programme' and not a project (Mhonda, interview data). The Anglican Church, Roman Catholic Church and the Salvation Army women would congregate and listen to Radio Home Craft Club Programme in the rural areas and high-density suburbs. Radios during this period were scarce. The new concept that was being introduced by the FAMWZ was the principle of two-way communication.
220.127.116.11 School of Journalism (Harare Polytechnic), UNESCO and AVS
The School of Journalism and UNESCO were incorporated to enable the exchange of information and ideas. The co-operation could benefit the journalism students, as it would give them an opportunity to learn practically what was involved in development journalism. When Mr Makunike, who was then the Head of the School of Journalism retired, its interest in development journalism faded. This may have affected the calibre of graduates coming from the School of Journalism as they seem not to be interested in working in rural areas. The Audio Visual Services played a consultative role. The relationship between the DTRP and UNESCO continued. UNESCO encouraged the establishment of RLC's in the region and later, in the 20th Century, the establishment of Community Radio Stations in Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, which operated alongside the RLC's (Moyo (a); Mapfundikwa, interview data). The Community Radio Stations established had healthy relationships with the National Radio Stations (Moyo (a), interview data). Programmes from Community Radio Stations were therefore being broadcast on the National Channel, which has a wider audience.
5.1.5 Aims and Objectives of the DTRP
The aims and objectives of the DTRP as stated in an article by Mavis Moyo entitled, 'The Development Through Radio (DTR) Concept in Zimbabwe' which she presented at a conference in Mozambique in 2001, was to de-mystify and democratise radio broadcasting. This was meant to boost development. National radio was going to be made accessible to rural communities who would have an opportunity to actively participate in the preparation of development orientated programmes based on the needs and concerns and priorities of their communities. The project, it was believed, would bridge the gap in terms of access to media by poor rural communities, particularly women.
The conception of the Development Through Radio Project (DTRP) initiatives by the Federation of African Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAMWZ) was in recognition of the need to address this information disparity. It was also driven by the fact that professional media women themselves were disadvantaged in terms of their portrayal and status in the industry, coupled with the realisation that women's interests in general were not being served by the media, especially those of rural women. FAMWZ through the DTRP initiative sought to highlight the importance of the rural woman's role in the development process (Moyo & Quarmyne, 1994).
The aims of the DTRP were in line with the objectives of the FAMWZ, which placed gender as central to its activities with an aim of redressing the gender imbalances in society. The objective was to give women an opportunity to articulate issues from their perspective. Media was seen as a tool for social development and self-empowerment (Moyo & Quarmyne, 1994).
5.1.6 Establishing Radio Listening Clubs
The Federation of Africa Media Women – Zimbabwe Chapter (FAMWZ) did not go into the communities to establish new groups (Mhonda; Mapfundikwa; Moyo (a and b), interview data). Through the network of the Association of Womens Clubs (AWC), the FAMWZ approached groups, which were already operational and engaged in a variety of income generating activities. They explained to these communities how they could benefit by being members of the RLC's. After training, they were expected to be able to record their own programmes. This process would enable them to have a chance to have their voices heard on National Radio. Clubs formed were to be supplied with a radio set, batteries and audiotapes to record themselves.
The other main criteria in selecting communities that were going to participate is the area. RLC's were to be set up in areas that were easily accessible to the co-ordinator. Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West were incorporated during the first stage (Mapfundikwa; Moyo (a and b), interview data). After consultations with the District Administrator and the communities, the clubs were set up. This meant that right at the onset of the project, very remote, and marginalised areas were eliminated in favour of peri-urban/rural areas. However, these communities also had very limited access to information as was evidenced by the reactions of some of the community members,
"We have no access to information. Now, we are independent and we don't know what is going on. We don't know what the government policy is. This information does not get to us". (Moyo (a), interview data).
From the above statement, it was evident that communities wanted to have dialogue with the government. This project, it was hoped would be able to achieve that. Later, Radio Listening Clubs were also set up in parts of Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South. However, these remained concentrated in peri-urban areas or near growth points. Communities in remote areas continued to be marginalised.
5.1.7 The DTRP [Development Through Radio Project] - Participatory Methodology
This was introduced to the RLC's in three phases.
The first phase involved the identification of areas where the RLC's were to be set up. Meetings with the communities were held whereby they were told of the benefits of being members. Communities that were interested set up their groups and appointed monitors within their groups. After that, they were given a radio set, batteries and tapes.
The monitor and one or two other members of the group underwent training on how to use the radio set and how to record themselves. They were also taught about the techniques of recording themselves, for example, that they should speak clearly and give each other a chance to speak without interrupting so that the information would be audible. They were also taught how to keep a register of attendances and activities they were engaged in.
Communities would meet once a week to listen to the RLC Programme. They would discuss the broadcast of the day. After that, they would decide whether they had an issue to raise regarding the broadcast programme of the day or whether they needed to raise any issue of importance to them. So, the group would decide when to record themselves. Once they had recorded a programme, they would wait for the co-ordinator to come and collect it. The co-ordinator would record the responses and have the programme broadcast.
5.1.8 DTRP Participatory Approach
The participatory approach was adopted from the onset. This meant that communities had to record themselves, give the recorded tapes to the Producer/Coordinator who had the task of listening to them and contacting the relevant authorities for comments. Comments and responses were edited together with the information from the communities to produce a thirty-minute programme. This was broadcast on Radio 4 from 2.00pm to 2.30pm on a Monday from Mbare Studios in Shona and Wednesday from 2.00pm to 2.30pm from Montrols Studio (Bulawayo) in Ndebele. The radio programme was named Radio Listening Clubs Programme. The days and time slots for the broadcast were chosen after consultations with the RLC members.
The process adopted was meant to enable communities to set their own agenda.
This grassroots participation is what sets this project design apart and distinguishes it from other rural radio which is in line with the agenda setting theory of McCombs and Shaw, i.e. that the media agenda (MA) leads to the people's agenda (PA): MA>>>>PA. This was highlighted by a Ghanaian African Communication researcher, Isaac Obeng-Quaidoo, who was part of a DTR evaluation team in 1992. He declared that in Zimbabwe the process has been reversed or turned upside down. The agenda setting model can therefore be adapted as follow: PA>>>>>MA. In the DTR project it is the peoples agenda that leads the media agenda (Moyo, 2001:3).
Club members were sometimes joined by other community members when they congregated once a week to listen to the purpose-produced half hour programme on Radio 4. After listening, they would discuss issues raised in the programme as well as other issues of concern to them. The club members would decide when to record themselves and what issues to raise. This approach enabled communities to be heard, hence encouraging a two-way flow of communication between members and officials (as well as between members and experts) and horizontal communication among the club members. Through training, Radio Listening Club (RLC) members were meant to acquire skills that would enabled then to manage their groups and to do their own recordings (Moyo & Quarmyne,1994).
18.104.22.168 Benefits of the Participatory Communication Approach
A two-way communication between developmental officials and members of the clubs was achieved. Among the different club members, horizontal communication was established and enhanced. However, other community members who were not members of the RLC's could listen and benefit from the information but could not express their views or set their own agenda. It was only the club members who had an opportunity to set their own agenda on national radio. The scale of the project therefore limited participation to members only. Communities in the remote parts of the country could have benefited from this project since they still lack or have limited access to media or information and the means of production.
What I believe was achieved by this project was to show media practitioners another way development information could be communicated instead of the traditional top down approach. I am of the belief that the top down approach was impacting negatively on development because it was failing to address issues of concern to people and was not dealing with the misconceptions of development communication messages. Mr Matenhabundo spoke during an unplanned interview I had with him on these misconceptions and their impact. He said that in the Zimbabwean context, when the agricultural extension officers encouraged farmers to make contours, it was perceived as a way the colonial government was using to oppress the masses. The issue of conservation of environment and its consequences was not addressed. When the importance of family planning was communicated, it was seen as a way of controlling the indigenous population (Matenhabundo, interview data) Through a two way communication model, these misconceptions could have been dealt with more effectively as people could have had an opportunity to express themselves. Apart from that, it could have facilitated in the tapping of indigenous knowledge, which development specialists are beginning to acknowledge as one of the missing dimensions in development. The DTRP Communication Model could be adopted to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experiences and create a dialogue for development.
5.1.9 RLC's Membership
In 1988, the DTRP was launched with forty-five formally constituted clubs (Moyo & Quarmyne, 1994). It was also stated in the article that as membership grew and distances members had to walk to reach a RLC increased, splinter groups were formed. Since there were limited facilities in terms of radio sets, emerging groups had to listen to pre-recorded tapes. By 2001, about fifty-five radio listening clubs were operational in the country with a total membership of over two hundred and twenty five persons, mostly women (Moyo (a) , interview data). However, during the observation trip, it became evident that the total number of groups which were functional, was not known since they were not being serviced regularly.
I conducted the field trip on the 9th of April 2001, which was a Monday, the day the RLC members gather to listen to the RLC Programme. I was accompanied by the co-ordinator of the DTRP for Mashonaland Province. Four RLC's were to be visited on this particular day. The aim was to find out whether these groups were still functional, observe one of them as they listened to the broadcast programme and also to observe the discussion. After observations, our last destination was to be Zhakata Ward where the co-ordinator was meant to collect the radio set as she had been informed that the RLC there had failed to take off. My interest was to interview the woman who was supposed to be the monitor to enlighten me on what problems they had faced during their attempts to form a RLC.
I observed that the group in Zhakata, although it had faced some problems at the beginning had been running for over a year. On our arrival at the venue the Zhakata RLC was supposed to congregate, we were informed that they had just left after listening and discussing that day's broadcast. We went and waited for the monitor at her homestead. When she arrived, she was carrying the radio set in her bag. As if to prove that they had been listening to the programme, she started to narrate what they had learnt and how the discussion had been. This showed that the information the Producer had did not reflect the situation on the ground, hence the importance of regular visits to the RLC's.
On the other hand, we visited the RLC in Mutsvairo were we found the monitor, Mrs Mutsvairo working in her field. Although it was only thirty minutes before the beginning of the programme, it was clear that she had no plans to attend the RLC. She said that her group was still functional and had since appointed a monitor to manage it since she was now actively involved in cross border trading. It was not possible to establish whether this group was still functional or had since disbanded. It was also evident that the process of selecting or replacing monitors had not been defined as Mrs Mutsvairo had appointed a monitor to act in her absence without consulting the RLC members.
What was evident is that each group seemed to have transformed with time, some disbanding, others failing to take off or expanding as was the case with Zvanakiresu RLC which had over fifty members, three of whom were men. The table below shows the number of participants of RLC's visited who were present during observation.
Table 5.3 Groups visited during observation
Buying and selling clubs
The six women I found at Batsiranayi RLC had no radio set. They were not going to listen to the programme since the monitor was sick. They had not bothered to go and collect the radio set because they could not operate the radio. Mrs Kupara, one of the members of the Batsiranayi RLC said,
Only two members of our group can operate the radio set. These two come from the same area. If one of them can not come, the other comes with the radio. Its Mrs Tigere and Mrs Kashiri. Today, they are both not coming because they are not feeling well. We did not bother to go and pick the radio set because we cannot operate it (Batsiranayi, Observation report, interview data)
It is therefore evident from the above that a process that had been meant to demystify technology had not benefited all the members of the RLC's. There is therefore need to extend training of how to operate the radio sets to all members so that the project does not become too dependent on monitors. The post of monitors should also be rotational giving other members of the group a chance to lead and mobilise others. There is also need to do research to find out how the different RLC had developed over the years and to try and identify the factors that could have influenced these developments.
Sharing of radio sets or listening to pre-recorded tapes was raised as a way that had been adapted to deal with demand. In Mashonaland Province, none of the groups visited were engaged in either of the above. In fact, the need to revamp RLCs was acknowledged since most of the members were too old to participate and no longer actively involved in development issues. From my observation, the issue of resources was not the major problem facing the DTRP but how to recruit new members to replace the old and those who had either moved or died. Very few young women were joining the RLC's. This was also acknowledged by the co-ordinator as we drove to the RLCs on the 9th of March 2001.
It is my observation that over the past decade, access to radio in urban and semi-urban (peri-urban) areas has improved. This might be one of the contributing factors RLC's are failing to attract the youth and middle-aged women. It was my observation that the communities where the RLC's we visited were located was no longer marginalised in terms of access to radio, hence the need to relocate the project to remote areas where access to media is still limited, and radio is yet to make an impact in terms of development.
5.1.10 Management of the DTRP
As shown above, the project was a partnership between ZBC and FAMWZ. The Producer, who was also the Co-ordinator and Presenter was appointed whose responsibility was to service clubs in terms of providing audiotapes, batteries as well as checking whether the radio sets were functional. The Producer had to produce and present the programmes as well.
The Producer/Presenter/Co-ordinator, was initially the only paid employee of the DTRP. From the titles by which this individual was referred to, it is evident that he was tasked with many responsibilities, which made it difficult for the clubs to be serviced efficiently as he had to produce, present and service them as well.
In 1999 ZBC pointed out to FAMWZ that the DTRP was supposed to be a partnership. The partnership was not balanced. ZBC was supplying the resources in terms of airtime, production of the programme, studio and co-ordinating the project while FAMWZ would sometimes assist in the servicing of the clubs only. It was therefore agreed that FAMWZ should take more responsibilities, for example, employing the co-ordinators. In 2000, FAMWZ was able to secure funding to employ two Coordinators, one servicing clubs in Mashonaland and the other, those in Matabeleland. The co-ordinators would liase with the former co-ordinator, presenter, Mr. Mhonda for continuity.
It was stated that Mr.Mhonda was still part of the DTRP for political reasons but investigations revealed that he still had an important role to play in the DTRP. For example, when the co-ordinator Mrs Gunduza was on leave between December 2000 and February 2001, Mr. Mhonda had the responsibility of producing the RLC Programmes for Mashonaland Province.
How is the DTRP linked to the FAMWZ in terms of management?
Diagram 5.2 Management Structure of the DTRP within the FAMWZ
The General Meeting meets after every two years. The paid up members have an opportunity during the General Meeting to elect new Board members. Board members are responsible for the management of the organisation. They formulate policies, plan and appoint the National Director and secretariat. The secretariat, which is headed by the National Director, is responsible for the implementation of the plan and translating policies into action. While the secretariat is paid staff, the Board members work on voluntary basis and are paid staff in other institutions where they work. The FAMWZ secretariat does not enjoy benefits as their counterparts in other media institutions since they work on contract basis. There is also no job security as the projects run by FAMWZ including the DTRP, are dependent on the availability of funding.
It was my observation that the Board members were generally skilled media women who did not necessarily have managerial skills. One of the staff members who refused to be named claimed that lack of managerial skills affected how the Board related to the Secretariat which she gave as the reason why the National Director, Information Officer and Finance Officer left the organisation abruptly in 2000. A consultant had to be appointed to run the affairs of the organisation while they looked for someone to fill the position of National Director.
During the telephone and face-to-face interviews I conducted with some of the members of FAMWZ, it became evident that there were some misunderstandings between some of the management team, employees of the project and the members. The basis of these misunderstandings seemed to have been the belief that the DTRP was attracting more funding compared to the other projects of the FAMWZ. Some of the members claimed that funds earmarked for the DTRP, especially those meant to replace old radio sets, were being redirected to other projects run by FAMWZ. Since financial issues were regarded as confidential, I was not able to establish to what extent these allegations were true. Some of the members of the FAMWZ who refused to be named were proposing that the DTRP should become an autonomous body.
It was my observation during this research that there was poor communication between the secretariat, board and club members. It is my belief that an attempt to make the DTRP an autonomous project before putting practical management structures in place could be disastrous for the project. What I believe should be done is to explore how communication can be improved between the secretariat, board and the members which would pave way for a conducive environment to debate the future of the DTRP. It is ironic though that the FAMWZ, composed of communicators, had not attempted to look at ways of improving communication among themselves.
The DTRP was said to be committed to giving a voice to the voiceless, bottom up approach to development and the empowerment of the marginalised. It however seemed that little was being done to make the voices of the RLC members heard when policies and strategies for improving the DTRP were discussed. In fact, although these RLC members could record information that was used as part of the programmes, they were not considered within the FAMWZ as media women and therefore not represented during general meetings.
Within the DTRP, the Project Officer liases with the Monitors who are responsible for mobilisation, management and record keeping for the RLC's at the local level. Services provided by monitors are given on a voluntary basis. A proposal to give monitors allowances was raised in 1994. This would have enabled the monitor to play a more significant role (Gunduza, interview data). Monitors could then be given other responsibilities like recording responses from resource persons, bringing the tapes to the office and collecting tapes and batteries. This could mean more training for the monitors and possibly more funds would have been required to manage the project. Questions which had been raised during the General Meeting in 1994 were how the RLC members would perceive it. FAMWZ had plans to call for a consultative meeting to find out from the stakeholders the way forward. I had looked forward to attending this meeting so I could listen to issues that were being raised and responses from the members. This meeting unfortunately did not materialise during the data collection period.
5.1.11 Radio Listeners Club Broadcast Programmes
I conducted a content analysis of twenty-nine programmes, which were broadcast between October 2000 and June 2001 and presented by Mrs Gunduza. I failed to access the list of programmes that had been produced between mid-December and February by Mr Mhonda while Mrs Gunduza was on leave.
The table below shows the programmes and the RLC's and development institutions, which participated in the programmes.
Activities of the RLC
Principle Enviroment Health Officer
Ministry of National Affairs
Department of Social Welfare
Impact of health on productivity
Kubatana - Chirundazi
Dual life system n spread of AID's
Agriculture loans available
Gracious Women Fellowship
Problem of Orphans
Infidelity among men
The content analysis of the programmes above was based on scant information on the contents of the radio programmes as the tapes used had been erased. Analysis of this scant information revealed that Batsiranayi RLC participated in most of the programmes compared with the other RLC's. Of the total twenty-nine programmes, Batsiranayi featured at least, nine times as shown on the table below. Batsiranayi RLC is about five kilometres from Chitungwiza Town.
It became evident from the interviews with the Information Officer from Musasa Project and the analysis of the RLC Programmes that it was not always the RLC members who had the opportunity to set their own agenda during the RLC Programme but also other development institutions. Musasa Project, by participating in the RLC Programme, had been able to reach a wider audience compared to the audience they were reaching through television and to set their own agenda.
We started with TV. One of the criticisms that we got was that TV was selective. So we needed to come up with other media tools that would reach out to the rural population. We actually had a situation where we went out to the community to talk to them about their understanding of violence. We spoke to village chiefs and headmen and the women and the old men in the village and school children. We were taking advantage of one programme that was started by another organisation called FAMWZ together with ZBC (Dube, interview data).
In terms of the agenda setting theory, the DTRP could be said to be a mixed bag in the sense that RLC members are able to set their own agenda as well as the development organisations they collaborate with, among them, Musasa Project, Zimbabwe Women Bureau and Women Action Group. Institutions who were contacted to respond to issues raised by the RLC members also took the opportunity to explain the aims and objectives of their organisations. For example, from the scant information on the contents of the Programmes, Jekesa Pfungwa, a development organisation, which also participated in the RLC Programmes analysed, talked about how it operates and the areas of interest to them in the programme broadcast on the 5th of March 2001.
I have been critical of the DTRP. However, it should be commended for the important role it played and continues to play in giving marginalised communities an opportunity to speak about issues of importance to them in the mainstream media. The fact that this model of communication has been successfully replicated in Mozambique, Malawi Kenya and Zambia, is a sign that the democratisation of the radio model as conceived by the DTRP is practical.
However, more needs to be done if the DTRP is to achieve its main aim of giving access to radio to marginalised communities by extending the project beyond the confines of the peri-urban areas. There is need to empower all club members by offering training on how to operate a radio set and to teach them basic leadership skills. Such training could be done by the co-ordinator during their visits to the clubs.
The position of monitors should be rotational, hence giving other club members an opportunity to lead and to be led. This could instil in communities the notion of democracy and power sharing. Power or leadership, should not be vested only in a few individuals, as that in itself becomes a process of marginalising the less privileged in society. In act, it was the co-ordinator's observation that most of the monitors of these RLC's were highly regarded members of their communities. She wondered why those of lower status in the communities never volunteered to be monitors.
What could also be considered is to establish an association of Radio Listeners Clubs with its own structures, which could be a platform club members can use to air their views and organise themselves.
In this case study, it is not the mass media but the people who are setting the agenda. Therefore, instead of it being the mass media agenda, it is the people's or women's agenda. On further analysis, it became evident that in some occasions, some development institutions, particularly women's organisations were using the programme to set their own development agenda. So, in terms of the agenda setting theory, the DTRP was a mixed bag.
The purpose of this case study as stated in the first chapter was to show to what extent participatory radio could contribute to the advancement and empowerment of rural communities and how community needs, concerns and interests are served by community media. It was evident in this case study that the participatory approach that was adopted promoted a two-way communication and enable communities, in this case RLC members, to set their own agenda in some of the programmes that were broadcast. The participatory approach enabled issues of concern and interest to them to be addressed. It also enabled them to raise awareness of the problems they faced in their income-generating projects and in some cases, the RLC's were able to secure funding from donor agents to boost their income generating initiatives. Lastly but not least, it provided an opportunity for communities which do not normally have a direct link to share experiences and knowledge.
4 January 2002, I learnt that a workshop had been conducted with some of the members of the FAMWZ in an effort to look at how they could best address the challenges that were being faced by the organisation.
For the full text of this thesis, please contact the author.