Monday, June 11, 2007

Donor shuts down radio

Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), a South Africa-based organization that was financing Mzimba Community radio, has detained radio equipment for the radio station demanding and end to disagreements that have ensued over management of the facility.
Some equipment were sent to South Africa for repair following damage that was caused by a lightning at the station, but Osisa has refused to release the repaired equipment because of the squabbles that are taking place at the station.
Osisa Media Programme Manager Sam Phiri said the organisation will not release the repaired equipment to the station accusing one Samuel Lwara, a member of Mzimba Volunteers Association (MZIVA), of bringing confusion to the management of the station.
“In the meantime, Osisa has purposefully delayed the return of the equipment until Lwara ends his personal campaign to control the station, something that is against the grant agreement that was signed between Osisa and the station,” said Phiri.
In a letter to Professor Muzipasi Shumba, Phiri says as a consequence of the infighting, his organisation decided, with immediate effect, to suspend its support to the Mzimba Community Radio (MCR) in line with the provisions of the grant agreement signed between Osisa and MCR.
“We suspend any plans to transfer the transmitter to Chikangawa, We also suspend any further disbursements of funds to MCR. The equipment and funding was a donation to the Mzimba community as a whole not to a particular organization or grouping,” reads part of the letter.
Mzimba Community Radio (MCR) was established under the supervision of Mzimba Volunteers Association, but Phiri said the agreement states that management of the radio should be “de-linked” from the Mzimba Volunteers Association.
In the agreement it was stated that Mziva would facilitate the formation of the MCR station and allow the Mzimba community to own the station.
“We had not expected that Mziva, or any individual, or group of individuals, could seek to control the station as that would restrict the expected increased community participation in the running of the station and the production of the programmes,” a factor that is cited in the Grant Agreement as one of the criteria for judging the success of the project,” says the report.
The situation forced Inkosi ya Makhosi M'mbelwa to convene an indaba at Mzimba boma on May19, 2007 to resolve issues that have led to the stalemate.
The meeting agreed that representatives from all chiefs in Mzimba and the District Commissioner (DC) should convene and elect a board that would run the affairs of Mzimba Community Radio station.
One of the people who attended the indaba, Lance Ngulube, said at the meantime, the radio station was still off air and will remain so until the matter is resolved and a board appointed.
“The problem basically is Samuel Lwara who feels left out of management of the radio and wants to wrest power by all means,” he said.
But Lwara denied the accusations in an interview on Thursday saying that those accusing him have ulterior motives.

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