Ndlambe FM receives massive boost in funding

NDLAMBE FM has received a massive boost from the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).

MDDA agent Vuyelwa Mbazana and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) compliance officer, Thabitha Serumula, attended the local radio station’s AGM on Friday evening at the Titi Jonas Hall in Thornhill.

CHANGE OF FORTUNES: There was much to celebrate at the recent Ndlambe FM AGM when it was announced that the local station would be receiving funding from the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA. From left are Ndlambe FM board member Nune Butana, Icasa (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) compliance officer Thabitha Serumula, Ndlambe FM chairman Godukile Mbolekwa, MDDA agent Vuyelwa Mbazana and station manager Dodo Shuping Picture: LOUISE CARTER

Mbazana said she was happy to be present at the AGM and that her organisation funds community radio, print media and television shows whereas she specialises in broadcasting.

Mbazana announced that the MDDA will fund Ndlambe FM with full broadcast equipment which will include a brand new studio, cover operational costs as well as transmission and personal costs. Mbazana did not say what the exact figure is but alluded the amount was near R2-million.

“Please keep working together with community involvement. If you work together, everything is possible,” she said.

Ndlambe FM chairman Godukile Mbolekwa thanked Mbazana on behalf of the Nldambe FM board, presenters and community at large. “Thank you, thank you,” he said.

Station manager Dodo Shupping was praised alongside his team of presenters for their dedication and perseverance of making Ndlambe FM a success.

Currently Ndlambe FM boradcasts 60% of its content in Xhosa, 30% in English and 10% in Afrikaans.

Mbolekwa said he had heard feedback regarding the radio station and the content through several channels across South Africa and people kept motivating them to keep going.

“We believe we have a bright future,” he said.

“Ndlambe FM is a community radio station. That’s a clear indication that everyone in Ndlambe has a role to play. The constitution mandate must be in line with requirements of Icasa,” Mbolekwa said.

He also acknowledged the presenters who were present. “Without them we would have no station,” he said.

He gave an overview of the challenges Ndlambe FM experienced over the past two years, including a disastrous move from Heritage Mall to Rosehill Mall and falling into debt regarding rent owed to the mall, being off air for a week and a half, losing money to a business that had bought substantial air time but went bankrupt without paying, and then moving to Titi Jonas Hall. As a result Ndlambe FM did not have an AGM last year due to the dire financial situation they found themselves in.

“We struggled financially. To date we don’t have local businesses that support us for advertising. The only partner we have is the municipality,” said Shuping.

“On the positive, we came to Titi Jonas Hall in March 2016 and have since then never been off air,” he said.

Ndlambe FM listenership had doubled in the last year, Shuping said.

He said some money had come in for Ndlambe FM from Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the funds were used for buying new equipment.

“We were blessed by Stenden University for paying our rent,” he said.

He added that Ndlambe FM would be able to pay their presenters a stipend now that MDDA has come on board, and could let their presenters work with adequate equipment and work in a new studio. “We are very happy, we have people supporting us,” he said.

“We appreciate the patience from the community and we assure the community that we will be doing will be in their best interests.”

The aforementioned Serumula, who has been the compliance officer for Ndlambe FM since its inception, said she was not impressed by the late start and tardiness of the AGM, and was hoping to see more community members attend. “Let’s improve on these issues of time and if you need to move away from a paperless society, you must then ensure you move to an electronic society and use email to spread the minutes of the AGM,” she said.

She expressed her gratitude that MDDA had come on board. “It means the station is coming right. Thank you for supporting these guys. Your journey has been a long journey,” Serumula said.

Mbazana wished the crew well but warned that they would have to account for the money. “Anything you do must represent the community and the radio station. The MDDA will come and ask for a report. No one will lose that money for him or her own benefit,” Mbazana said.

“You promised to be transparent and to involve your community,” she said.

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