Blantyre — Trans-World Radio (TWR) Malawi has removed its News and Current Affairs Department saying it is part of strengthening its programming as its core area is providing a Christian perspective on any current and contemporary issues affecting its listeners.
The development has left some people jobless but TWR Malawi National Director, Victor Kaonga said it is only four people that have been relieved and not fired.
Kaonga said TWR Malawi is in the process of reviewing some of its programmes and that the News and Current Affairs Department has only been suspended and not removed.
But an inside source told the Malawi News Agency (Mana) that the radio has removed the whole news department with effect from 1st April, 2014.
"It is wrong to say we have removed the news department because what has happened is just to suspend the whole department. It's not only the news department that has been affected, even other departments.
"Since we have suspended the news programme, we have trimmed the staff even from other departments apart from news and for your on information, TWR Malawi has only 20 members of staff and the relieved staff are four only.
"Our next move is that we have partnered with other radio stations in Malawi to offer us news by doing cross over like what other radio stations do in Malawi from the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) and other notable radios from outside but for us it will be a local one since the radio which we shall be getting news from is from Malawi.
"We have already approached MACRA on the matter and they are yet to give us a go ahead. TWR Malawi is just running away from having its own news department but soon we shall be broadcasting news from other networks," said Kaonga adding that due to financial problems, TWR Malawi cannot sustain the newsroom.
According to a TWR Malawi communication to its staff dated 17 March, 2014 titled "FOR THE SAKE OF MINISTRY SUSTAINABILITY" signed byBoard Chairperson, Justice Esme Chombo, some points were agreed to sustain TWR Malawi.
Some of the points include redefining programming, reducing the number of unsponsored programmes and releasing staff.
"Some staff will unfortunately and sadly be released to seek God's will elsewhere. We feel it is better to release people rather than keep them and fail to pay them. Their release has nothing to do with individual performance. If we had the resources we would keep them.
Those confirmed staff and are affected will be paid three-months salary and terminal benefits as stipulated in the Conditions of Service.
"Please be informed that it is TWR Malawi's responsibility to keep the ministry sustainable. As you are aware, we no longer have the financial support from Africa Regional Office or International Headquarters except through sponsorship of designated radio programmes," reads part of the communication.
Chairperson of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Anthony Kasunda said while it respects the decision taken by TWR Malawi, MISA feels it is a sad development noting it is a step backward in the media industry.
"The media industry is supposed to grow but not shrinking. We have graduating youths from colleges who could have benefited from that station.
"I know most of our members are jobless now. Of course it's a right decision to them and we wish them well," said Kasunda.