Yesterday saw voting by members of the National Community Radio Forum attending their Bi-Annual General Meeting (BGM) disrupted by a group of 20 people allegedly representing community-based and non-governmental organisations.
The NCRF BGM happened at the same time as the Alternative Information Development Centre’s (AIDC) MindBlast 2009 which started on Monday, December 06, 2009.
The NCRF, representing over 120 community radio stations, started smoothly but was disrupted on the last day by a group of 20 people, allegedly from community and non-governmental organisations who forced their way into the NCRF voting session demanding to be part of the process. According to the programme the NCRF sessions were scheduled for members of the organisation.
Mark Weinberg from the AIDC says “the latter was not premeditated and the AIDC was not part of the protest but civil society was very angry because the NCRF had agreed to spend a week with them discussing the role of the radio in deepening democracy and fighting poverty and the NCRF had completely turned their backs on the conference”.
According to Weinberg, community media needs to engage civil society because it is NGOs and social movements that give the information and content to community radio.
AIDC Volunteer, Monde Nqulwana says there was a belief that there was going to be engagement between the NCRF and the CBOs. “We felt strongly that we should be part of the BGM even if we were not going to have voting powers”, said Nqulwana.
He added that this was not a platform to do it but they still wanted to engage the sector.
The meeting was reconvened after an intensive meeting between NCRF and the group, and the elections went ahead for the new NCRF Board. The newly elected Chairman of the Board, Sonnyboy Masingi says he does not believe that the Mindblast was communicated properly as the NGO and CBO representatives wanted to influence the resolution of the BGM, not understanding that it is a constitutional structure, and open for members only.
According to Masingi, the community-based organisations may have a wrong perception regarding the structure of the community radio body.
Thabang Pushoyabone, Radio Riverside Station manager and a newly elected board member feels that the CBOs wanted to be more involved in the programme of the NCRF BGM than the programme of the Mindblast.
Pushoyabone defended Radio Riverside which was hosting the conference by saying “there is a consultation, the station looks at programming by considering CBOs”.
Meanwhile Basil Jacobs, Radio Franschhoek’s Station Manager does agree that community involvement is poor in his area. ”In my year of being station manager I have experienced that it’s very difficult to get the community actively involved in radio. We have created a platform where NGOs and CBOs can partner with us however it has been challenging to maintain partnerships. WHY? WHO? WHEN?” asked the irate Jacobs.
Radio Zibonele’s Phetho Ntaba, says they have a very good working relationship with the NGOs and CBOs. She said they generate their content around these organisations. She also added that their mandate as a community radio station is to make sure that they target issues of community interest.
According to the NCRF Chairperson, the matter is not resolved and they are planning a special meeting in February 2010.
Nqulwana says the CBOs are skeptical that they will reach a solution. According to Nqulwana the CBOs are scared that the community media will be swallowed by mainstream media.
Tags: AIDC, attack, BGM, board, Bush Radio, Community radio, intimidation, Mark Weinberg, Mindblast, National Community Radio Forum, NCRF, organisations, protest, Radio Franschhoek, Radio Riverside, radio stations, Radio Zibonele, toyi-toying, voices, Whale Coast FM