Maputo — Mozambican Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina declared in Maputo on Monday that community radios should be a factor for political and social stability in the country.
He said that community radios and the mass media in general should take a position against all forms of promoting hatred and violence.
“Since the media in general, and particularly the community radios are at the service of the public they should take a position for the preservation of peace and social harmony”, urged Vaquina.
He was speaking at the opening of a three day international conference on “Critical Reflections about Community Radios in Africa”. The purpose of the meeting is to reflect on the role of community radios, in the knowledge that they face severe challenges concerning the political and social environment in which they work and their financial sustainability.
In most countries where community radios broadcast, they have not only removed the state monopoly on broadcasting, but have brought pluralism and diversity to the sector, giving a voice to communities in matters concerning their own development, and providing them with an opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
Vaquina said that the Mozambican government is committed to strengthening the mass media, and particularly the community media, since this covers the rural areas, where the majority of the population lives, “who in their daily struggle to free themselves from poverty achieve successes which are not always known and publicised”.
“The community radios should take these people out of their anonymity, showing us their concerns, praising their efforts and celebrating their victories”, the Prime Minister stressed.
He added that the prestige that these radios enjoy in their communities arises to a large extent from the fact that they use the local Mozambican languages to broadcast their messages. Their programmes also reflect the interests of the local public, catching with greater sensitivity details, and even questions that are essential for community life, which national broadcasters do not deal with,
The conference will deal with matters such as access to information, the genesis of community radios and their legal framework, questions of culture, language and identity, the financing and sustainability of the radios, and the migration from analog to digital broadcasting.
One threat Mozambican community radios face is interference from district administrators who may not like the content of what they broadcast. Thus in November, the administrator of Macanga district, in the western Mozambican province of Tete, shut down the Furancungo Plateau Community Radio or several days, alleging that it was being mismanaged.
The radio’s coordinator, Vasco Captone, believed that the true motivation for the closure was the outspoken way in which the radio has reported on the life of the district.
A similarly illegal closure occurred in the central province of Manica in October. The mayor of Manica town, Moguene Candieiro, was accused of ordering the closure of the radio, alleging internal conflict in the Macequece Community Association which owns the Macequece radio.
But the radio’s editor, Arlindo Francisco, claimed “What is happened is that the politicians want to interfere in the radio and we won't let them".