Today I participated in a radio debate on BBC Africa Have Your Say. It was an actual debate in which I argued against the opinions of the editor-in-chief from Zimbabwean Independent. The subject was active citizen participation in radio programs all over Africa. The journalist from Zimbabwe argued that call-ins are generally a waste of time because those people who make the calls do not have valuable contributions. Instead, he militated for only listening to people with authority, i.e. specialists, professionals etc. I said, instead, that in my opinion Zimbabwe has a political culture in formation should which be allowed to express itself because we do not know where a valuable idea is coming from. In addition, it is the journalist’s mission to convey and capture the ideas that are presented by the call-ins. In other words, if someone rabbles on a topic, a journalist is supposed to control the debate and direct the call-ins towards the topic of the day. Many different views have been expressed on the program. I think it’s best if you guys listen for yourselves and decide who’s right and who’s wrong. Unfortunately, I did not have the chance to intervene again after my debate with the Zimbabwean journalist (which can be listed to, from minute 11 to minute 19) to say that, at the end of the day, being for or against call-ins is irrelevant. The optimal radio show would be a combination of the two which would equally allow people with authority and average citizens to have their say on a topic. After all, that was what we were doing, on BBC, and I believe we have no right to prevent others from doing the same thing.
The who debate can be listened to by clicking here.