July 11 2013
A community radio network has been launched in Swaziland. The network, made up of several community radio lobby groups and NGOs, is campaigning for community radio stations in Swaziland.
UNESCO associate project officer Lydia Gachungi, who made a presentation at the event, said from the SADC countries that UNESCO supports, Swaziland is the only one that does not have a legal framework in place for the operation of community radio stations. Gachungi urged all those at the launch to keep working hard in lobbying government to speed up the passage of necessary legislation.
Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Swaziland) and the Open Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) helped to organise the launch. Chairman of MISA-Swaziland Alec Lushaba said community radio, if and when operating in the country, will help to promote access to inforamtion and will help foster development. Lushaba also encourgaged people to keep lobbying for the passage of legislation – Swaziland Broadcasting Bill – that will allow citizens to get community radio licesnes, and therefore begin broadcasting.
The minister of ICT, Winne Magagula, was invited to the event but didn’t attend. In her absence, Ngwempisi MP Veli Shongwe thanked the organisers of the launch and expressed his hope that community radio would be broadcating soon.
Verteran community radio campaigner, Amrbose Zwane, from Lubombo community radio campaign, spoke about the work the network will do and thanked MISA-Swaziland and other partners for their support.
Also at the event was a representative from the U.S. Embassy in Swaziland, members from Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), and the Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation (RSSC).
The community radio network (CRN) is “an association of representatives of community radio initiatives”. According to the launch press release the “Interim Committee for this network was elected in May 2013. It is composed of representatives of existing and soon-to-be established local community radio (organisations): Lubombo, Matsanjeni, Ngwempisi, Voice of the Church (VOC), Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the University of Swaziland”.
As is stands, community radio doesn’t exist in Swaziland. There are only two radio stations in the country. The dominant station, SBIS, runs an English and siSwati service. The government effectively controls SBIS. Members of parliament are banned from speaking on SBIS and citizens need approval from their chief before making an announcement. The other station, Voice of the Church, airs mainly religious content.
The community radio network is supported by human rights group COSPE, the U.S. Embassy in Swaziland and the World Association of Christians Communication (WACC).
The launch was held at the George Hotel in Swaziland’s commercial capital Manzini and was attended by over 50 people.
For comments or queries, please contact:
MISA-Swaziland National Director