ZANZIBAR now has its first community radio, to foster civic education, democracy and promote reconciliation, thanks to the United Nations, writes Dennis Itumbi for

United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) resident director Vebeke Jensen Ho said during the launch that Zanzibar should put to the best use a free, independent and realistic media to promote development and democracy.

Micheweni FM, is the name picked for the inaugural project in the Pemba Island of Zanzibar. Pemba is a predominantly stronghold of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), which has been scooping all seats in the Zanzibar House of Representatives as well as those of MPs in the Tanzania Union Parliament.

As a result, it has been quite difficult for people from different political backgrounds to cooperate even on non-political issues, including development and social engagements for the past 15 years when the first multiparty elections were held in Tanzania.

UNESCO says it will continue to support development initiatives in Zanzibar including the media, owing to its role in creating and maintaining peace and harmony in society.

UNESCO donated about Tsh. 272 million for the FM radio project which includes a media centre, conference hall and the broadcasting station.

Residents of the northern town of Micheweni were encouraged to tune in to get up-to-date information. The radio project is under Pemba Press Club.