Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE opening of a community radio station in Beitbridge, Lotsha FM which broadcasts mainly in Tshivenda language has rekindled hope for a community which has endured decades of poor radio and television signal reception.
The radio which was licensed by the Government as part of giving communities a voice, went on air on Tuesday at 10 pm.
The radio station operates within a radius of 60km.
Prior to the latest development, people from Beitbridge were relying mainly on radio and television signals from neighbouring countries such as Botswana and South Africa.
The latest development is part of the Government’s thrust to promote development at the grassroot level.
Speaking during a recent visit to Beitbridge, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana said community radios are critical in pushing the development agenda in line with the devolution policy.
A total of 14 community radio stations have been granted broadcasting licences to help address issues of communication and underdevelopment in some parts of the country.
Matabeleland South province got four community radio station licences to broadcast in Venda, Sotho, Kalanga and Ndebele.
Mr Mangwana said it is also very critical for the community radio stations to amass as much content as possible so that they are able to broadcast meaningful and helpful programmes.
He said the Government and its development partners spent US$40 000 through the broadcasting funds to set up the Beitbridge Shashe Community Radio.
“This is a community radio station and we expect the community to play an active role in defining content and the developmental issues around this area,” he said.
Mr Mangwana said the radio station has been receiving tremendous support from various stakeholders. He also appealed to the corporate world to be actively involved in community development as part of social responsibility.
“We want to ensure that besides being on air, these radios stations are sustainably run through the involvement of everyone around this area,” he said.
Mr Mangwana said the community radios will help nurture talents and present a converging point for people to discuss challenges and proffer solutions.
The radio station’s board chairman, Mr Mekia Muyambo said the opening up of the radio station marked a new era for the Beitbridge Community.
“We are excited and I must admit that it was never an easy road but we managed to sail through. 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 per our plan. It is our belief that we will continue working together as a community.”
Mr Muyambo said the radio station was grateful to the local community and those in the diaspora who were supporting it.
Beitbridge town clerk, Mr Loud Ramakgapola said: “This is good for us as a local authority because we have a lot of information that we need to share with our ratepayers. The radio station will make it easy for us to engage residents while it creates employment for the youths”.
Miss Evelyn Lunga of Dulivhadzimu suburb said the new community radio station will improve access to critical information.
Mr Brighton Maladzhi from Mpande area in ward 12 said: “That is good music to my ears and for us locals, it is a positive development. Our people will be timeously informed of the current affairs and for the business community, it will also create a platform for them to advertise their goods and services.”
Chief Sitauze said the opening of the radio station is a blessing for the community considering that radio plays a critical role in terms of information dissemination.
“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. 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,” he said.
Miss Elizabeth Moyo from Malala in Ward 6 said she is optimistic that the project will generate employment for the youths.