The following speech was delivered by Ambrose Zwane, national coordinator of Swaziland’s community radio network, at the network’s launch at the George Hotel in Manzini, July 11 2013.
Swaziland and Zimbabwe are the only countries that has not yet opened the airwaves for the community radio sector. In past 15 years Lubombo Community Radio has been facing a number of challenges. The main stumbling block is the lack of a legal framework to enable community radios and any form of radio to operate in the country. Relevant bills were formulated years ago but the process has been delayed for a long time.
We thank the Lubombo population for kick starting the road to free the airwaves and for sensitising the other three regions to start their own community radio initiatives. As a sector we give thanks to the Swaziland government for moving the long over waited licensing process, we appreciate to note that at least two bills has been passed. We hope the outstanding bills will be debated soon and all the bills will get Royal Ascent without delay.
In the past few years the community radio initiatives in the country were working as independent individual projects — the formation of this network will enable them to advocate in one voice. The Swaziland Community Radio Network (SCRN) has put in place an Executive Committee with representatives from all the community radio initiatives in the country.
At the moment SCRN has six members: Matsanjeni Community Radio, Ngwemphisi Community Radio, University Campus Radio, The Voice of the Church, The Seventh Day Adventist Community Radio and Lubombo Community Radio.
SCRN’s launch marks the beginning of a strengthened civil society platform which aims to be a platform for the sector to advocate and lobby and mobilize resources, as well as to increase technical capacity building opportunities. In this direction, the voice of the community radio sector will be unified, clearer and stronger. The network sets off to be an exemplary media house sector to the mainstream media sector in Swaziland, with a transparent and modern constitution resulting from a participative process, with a 50/50 gender policy applicable to all members and where the contributions of each community radio initiative are discussed and considered. Special importance will be given to gender equity, monitoring and regulation, and capacity building in the areas of advocacy, funds mobilization and management and broadcasting training.
Million thanks to The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA), and US Embassy in Swaziland for sponsoring this historic event this will indeed go a long way.
Allow SCRN to invite you to join our efforts to demonstrate the power of a community radio in the society by launching “A Taste of a community radio Campaign,” a radio programme produced by four community radio initiatives, Lubombo community Radio, Matsanjeni Community Radio, Ngwemphisi Community Radio and University Campus Radio. The production will be stored in CDs and USBs and later distributed to all buses and taxis in the country. This exercise will enable the population to experience community radio production. This campaign will target government units as well as civil society organizations and the broader Swazi populations from October onwards.
I conclude by taking this opportunity on behalf of the entire community radio sector to thank all sponsors of the CDs/USBs production US Embassy in Swaziland, World Association for Christian Communication and Cooperation for the Development of Emerging Countries ( COSPE). If you look at the leaflet you will see all national and international organizations that are supporting the existence of community radios in the country. I THANK YOU ALL!.