The following speech was delivered by Alec Lushaba, Chairman of MISA-Swaziland’s National Governing Council, at the launch of the community radio network at the George Hotel in Manzini, July 11 2013.
MISA-Swaziland, as a media freedom NGO, is honoured to be assisting with today’s launch of Swaziland’s Community Radio Network.
The Network is an association of people, from the various regions of Swaziland, who are campaigning to bring community radio stations to the country.
Our aim, therefore, is to build momentum from this launch and transform this campaign – this initiative – into real-life community radio stations; stations that allow all Swazis to speak their minds on the radio; stations that give access of media to all Swazis; and stations that speak to real issues affecting real people.
Imagine, just for a moment, if all the four regions of this great country had its own community radio station, each one focusing on issues affecting that area. Each station allowing anyone to talk on radio, allowing the people on the ground to drive the discussion. This image, if we want it enough, is not far away – but it will take all of us to bring it to life.
The Broadcasting Bill – currently sitting before parliament – needs to pass that August house and then receive assent from His Majesty. Our work now must centre on getting that Bill passed. For if we have that Bill behind us as an Act of Parliament, as law of the land, then this Network, and anyone else who wishes it, can apply for a community radio license: a license that holds the hope of bringing media freedom a step closer. We must focus on this common goal; we must work together and be practical.
MISA-Swaziland is here to assist the Community Radio Network in its efforts. MISA is encouraged and heartened by the tireless and often thankless work of Lubombo Community Radio, and it’s main man Ambrose Zwane. So again, MISA-Swaziland is pleased to be involved with today’s launch. Many people have worked very hard for over a decade to get to this point. And there is still much hard work to be done. Our work is not done until we have operating community radio stations in the country. And in many respects, our work will only truly begin when we have community radio stations.
The launch of this Network is another step in the right direction. Let’s keep up the momentum.