Fireworks At Byo Radio Licence Hearings

There were fireworks at the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) first public hearing as Skyz Metro FM and Skies FM – two of the three radio stations vying for the sole Bulawayo commercial radio licence – presented their proposals in the city Tuesday.

 The BAZ commission led by chairperson Dr Tafataona Mahoso Wednesday heard submissions from the third and last broadcaster Skyz FM which is part of Trevor Ncube’s Alpha Media holdings.

 Fair Talk Communications (Pvt) Ltd trading as Skyz Metro FM, Skies Radio (Pvt) Ltd trading as Skies FM and Carryslot (Pvt) Ltd trading as Skyz FM are battling it out for the sole commercial radio licence.

The heated grilling of the contenders by members of the public culminated in accusations by some of the aspirants that some applicants had “rented a crowd” to discredit rivals.

While Skyz Metro FM was roundly criticised by members of the public, they warmed up to Skies FM radio’s proposal presented by one of its directors, Netsai Gumede.

 Participants threw jibes at Cont Mhlanga – one of the directors of Skyz Metro FM – that bordered on the personal following a polished and detailed presentation of the radio station’s business proposal by Qhubani Moyo, CEO of Fair Talk Communications.

 A woman who identified herself as Mahofa asked how Mhlanga could have a successful radio project when, according to her, he had failed to run the Amakhosi Cultural Centre project.

Another unidentified man said Mhlanga was a failure as he had been fired from being a councillor in Lupane and therefore should not be given the radio licence.

 Thomas Sithole asked how Amakhosi centre could house a radio studio when “it had been turned into a taxi rank by Cont.”

Responding to the verbal attack, an emotional Moyo shot back: “There are some of you who are mischievous. We know it’s a high stakes game and we will be on the other side. However, this is not a Cont project. Yes he was a councillor and he resigned for personal reasons. He is not alone.

“We are a company which is legally constituted.”

After the meeting, Moyo said it was unfortunate that some people were pushing so hard to discredit his station that they almost exposed the people they were working for, adding: “Desperate people resort to desperate measures, we should do it for the region rather than individuals so that whoever wins, does it for all of us.”

An unidentified woman asked Cont how they were going to fund two projects at the same time since they own Breeze FM, the only station on the shortlist for the Victoria Falls commercial radio licence.

Moyo responded: “We’re capable of funding the projects, that’s why we applied for them.”

Skies FM appeared to have the backing of the majority of the motley crowd with some thanking the station for mooting the idea to run a radio station saying “that would change the lives of people in the region”.

Meanwhile,Veteran broadcaster and former ZBC presenter Haile Velaphi Mlangeni has bought radio legend Ezra Tshisa Sibanda’s 30 percent shareholding in Bulawayo commercial radio licence hopefuls Skies FM for $30,000, it has been established.

Sibanda confirmed the sale Tuesday saying he was no longer a director at the radio station, but would stay on as chief executive officer.

The development was revealed at the ongoing public hearings being conducted by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) in Bulawayo.

ommissioner Charity Moyo queried why Sibanda’s name was still included on the Skies FM application papers as a shareholder, director and CEO when in the new papers presented at the hearing, Mlangeni was cited as a 30 percent shareholder.

“There appears to be a change in the shareholding structure. In the applicant’s initial application papers, Sibanda has a 30 percent shareholding, now it’s being held by Mlangeni. Please clarify that point,” said Comm Moyo.

 In response, June Khumalo – one of the directors of Skies FM – said indeed Mlangeni was the new shareholder who had bought shares from Sibanda.

 She said Mlangeni now owns 30 percent while the other 30 percent is controlled by Mtandazo Khumalo and 40 percent is owned by Netsai Gumede.

“Sibanda is no longer a shareholder or a director. He resigned and is now the CEO. So may you please withdraw the letter of January 27, and we will forward the letter to that effect,” said Khumalo.

Sibanda told Chronicle members of the public could also buy shares at the radio station.

“Yes I sold my shares and I am now the CEO. In fact members of the public are also welcome to buy the shares if they want,” he said.

Sibanda and Mlangeni are former Radio 2 (now Radio Zimbabwe) DJs and are in the project that is being bankrolled by Transport Minister Dr Obert Mpofu.