Mdantsane airwaves silent in strike action

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Mdantsane FM presenters, news readers and producers downed tools yesterday over allegations of mismanagement of funds.

OFF AIR: Mdantsane FM presents downed tools yesterday over unpaid wages and limited resources at the station. Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA

This forced thousands of loyal listeners to tune to other stations as the station remained silent on its frequency of 89.5MHz.

On its website, the station claims to have a more than 102000 listeners, making it one of the most popular community stations in the Border region.

Some listeners visited the station after phones went unanswered.

Listener Siya Ntlokwana said: “I am a regular listener and we were never told about any shutdown. I am still interested to know what the reason behind the silence is.”

The employees did not go on air but staged a sit-in at their new Mdantsane City Mall offices.

The workers claim station manager Xabiso Gqirana plays the roles of station, finance, marketing and programmes manager.

They complain there is no transparency between him and employees in terms of money that comes in and out of the station.

They also claimed that stipends were sometimes not paid to workers.

Some workers who spoke to the Daily Dispatch on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation said there was money coming in from funders and advertisers, but nothing was paid to the personnel nor were improvements made to facilities.

“Sometimes we are paid and sometimes we are not paid. We have not been paid since the beginning of this year and some of us spend normal working hours at the station and are not even given transport money,” said one worker.

When the Dispatch visited the station yesterday, one of the managers, only known as DJ Tanana, walked into the studio and wanted to know why there was dead silence on their frequency.

He then called Gqirana and asked him to urgently report to the station.

DJ Tanana then called a closed meeting where they would discuss “the way forward”.

At the time of writing, the outcome of the meeting was not known. Attempts for comment from Gqirana were also unsuccessful at the time of writing. — sisiphoz@dispatch.co.za

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