Beitbridge community radio goes on air

Thupeyo Muleya |  9 months ago | local

The opening of a community radio station in Beitbridge, Lotsha FM broadcasting mainly in Tshivenda, has brightened life for the community which has endured decades of poor radio and television network reception.

The radio, licenced by the Government as part of giving communities a voice, went on air

on Tuesday at 10pm.

Under the current set up, the radio will be operating from transmitters in Beitbridge town and the Shashe area covering two thirds of the 300km wide district.

Prior to the latest development, people from Beitbridge were relying mainly on radio and television signals from Botswana and South African channels.

The development is part of Government’s thrust to promote development at the grassroots level and ensure all communities and all language groups have a voice.

Speaking during a recent visit to Beitbridge, Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Nick Mangwana said community radio stations were critical in pushing development in line with the devolution concept.

Fourteen community radio stations have been granted broadcasting licenses to help address issues of communication and underdevelopment in some parts of the country.

Matabeleland South received four licences for community radio stations to broadcast in Venda, Sotho, Kalanga, and Ndebele languages.

He said it was also very critical for the community radios to amass as much content as possible so that they may broadcast meaningful and helpful programmes for people in their areas.

Government and its agencies had spent US$40 000 through the broadcasting funds to set up the Beitbridge Shashe Community radio which should be on air by Wednesday next week.

“This is a community station and we expect the community to play an active role in defining content and the developmental issues around this area,” he said.

The station had been receiving support from many stakeholders and he appealed on the corporate world to be actively involved as part of community social responsibility programmes.

“We want to ensure that besides being on air, these radios stations are sustainably run though the involvement of everyone around this area”.

The community stations would help nature talents and present a converging point for people to discuss challenges and their solution.

The community radio station’s board chairman, Mr Mekia Muyambo, said the opening of Lotsha FM marked a new era for the Beitbridge community.

“We are excited. It was never an easy road but we sailed through and we want to commend the Second Republic for walking the talk on liberalising airwaves and giving the Venda community a platform and opportunity to tell their story in their own language,” he said.

“We are now putting final touches and attending to all teething challenges and ensure the sustainability of the station as in our budget plan.

“It is our belief that we will continue working together collectively with the entire community in producing developmental items and artistic activities.”

Lotsha FM was grateful for the support coming from the community and sons and daughters of Beitbridge based in other towns and in the diaspora.

Beitbridge town clerk, Mr Loud Ramakgapola said: “This is good for us as a local authority considering that we have a lot of information that we need to share with ratepayers.

“The radio station will make doing business a lot easier and communicating will be more direct and faster. The development is welcome and we hope it will also create employment for the youths”.

Miss Evelyn Lunga of Dulivhadzimu suburb said the new community radio station will improve access to critical information for people around the district.

They were happy that their stories will be told based on the local content. Mr Brighton Maladzhi from Mpande area in ward 12 said he was over the moon because of the latest development.

“That is good music to my ears, I am very happy to hear that. It is a great development to our community as a people in Beitbridge.

Our people will be timeously informed of the current affairs and the business community will also get a chance to advertise their goods and services,” he said.

Beitbridge’s senior traditional leader, Chief Stauze (David Mbedzi), said the opening of the radio station was a blessing for the community considering that radio was very interactive compared to mainstream newspapers.

He said those who are not able to read or cannot afford television sets could afford to get radio signals from basic cell phones.

People now had an opportunity to market and sell their products and services at a local level.

“This development gives us a voice as the Venda community. We now have a platform to map our own development path in our own language and we expect to carry everyone along since we will be using the same language and there is a lot we share in common as a community,” said Chief Stauze.

Miss Elizabeth Moyo from Malala in Ward 6 hoped that many youths would be employed when the radio rolls out full scale operations across the district.