The office Free State Premier, Sisi Ntombela, says it is deeply concerned about the troubles at a local community station, Motheo FM, in Bloemfontein.
This comes after disgruntled presenters downed tools on Monday morning in the hopes to have the station manager, Manko Buffel, sent packing and after crying foul at receiving an income of a mere R1200 – R1500 a month, with ill-treatment from the management.
The spokesperson to the premier, Setjhaba Maphalla, told Bloemfontein Courant that the office of the premier has been in contact with the office of the station manager after news broke that presenters want Manko Buffel and her programme manager to vacate office.
Maphalla has also rubbished claims by presenters that the office of Ntombela had made a financial contribution to the coffers of the station. He said late last year the premier and the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation had pledged to donate money to identified community radio stations. Towards the end of last year the money had not been paid for various reasons.
“So what is currently happening, is that the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture & Recreation is busy with an external process. You will remember that people went on holiday, so now that we are back at work the department is busy trying to finalise the donations,” Maphalla said.
On Tuesday the station manager, Buffel, also told Bloemfontein Courant that she knew nothing about the troubles of radio presenters and news readers and that she had only heard about the strike and their grievances on air on Monday morning. According to Buffel, contrary to the allegations, the station had not yet received any money that was pledged by the office of the premier to the station.
Maphalla has, however, cautioned that the squabbles between the employees and management should not be drawn towards the non-payment of the donation by the premier’s office, as the two are far apart. “They have their own internal issues and internal issues of community radio are very difficult to understand. So they cannot, therefore, use this as one of their issues to have a go at each other because they know very well that the money has not been paid. If the money had been paid they would be able to prove it via bank statements and so on,” Maphalla added.
Maphalla said the office of the premier will continue to engage with the relevant parties in the hopes of finding lasting solutions.
Meanwhile, angry presenters have returned to the airwaves yesterday on condition that Buffel and her programme manager vacate office following two days of protest against the two. One of the presenters said the board of directors invited them to discuss issues raised by presenters and it is in that meeting when the board informed them it’s practically impossible to remove or suspend the two without having done a proper investigation in the affairs of the station.