… as presenters go off-air
The Katutura community radio station Base FM presenters have unanimously agreed to go off air with the exception of playlists and adverts until some serious matters concerning the station have been resolved convincingly.
At a press conference that was recently held at Base FM, the spokesperson Nathan Mbatia told the media that there are serious matters that need ironing out. Amongst these are the unexplained changes to the deed of the trust by individuals, un-procedural managerial appointments, financial matters, lack of any activities on the board side including lack of progressive policies and leadership in addition to the fact that the board doesn’t meet as prescribed by the deed. Mbatia said no single AGM has taken place since 2012 when the current board was appointed.
“This and other intertwining issues have led to the resignation of two board members and a manager, which has then left the institution under an acting manager, Patricia du Plessis. The board now consist of only two members, Kae Matundu who is the board chairperson and Unomengi Kauapirura. According to the deed this is not right as it stipulates that the trust must be administered by not less than three trustees,” said Mbatia.
The Base FM staff members were however hoping that upon return from the festive break, there will be an AGM called, which will see a proper board elected and a permanent manager appointed. According to Mbatia, this did not happen. The weekend prior to the expected return of the staff and the staff were expected to return to normal programming, some presenters allegedly received calls from an individual named Moses Karimuti to tell them that he was the new boss and why there was dead air at the station.
It is also alleged that Patricia du Plessis was never officially appointed. It is further claimed that she never met with the board to instruct her on the way forward nor how she was expected to run Base Fm. “When I came on board I found Base FM with a debt of more than N$200 000. There were incidences when Base FM was shut off air due to non-payments. When I contacted the Professional Communications where we rent the tower they said that Base FM owed them for more than a year with a debt of N$52 000. I went to see the board chair and the only response was, what are you going to do about it,” she narrated.
Du Plessis also expressed that during her reign as the station manager she never received help from the board and that is why she decided to resign. “City of Windhoek wanted to close down the station, there was an eviction letter and when I went to the board chairperson the response was just ‘I hear you.’ I called for a board meeting where I handed in my resignation letter as the station manager.”
At the press conference, the staff requested Matundu to explain whether there were adverts ran for the position, how the interviews were conducted and how the station manager was appointed. In response Matundu allegedly said that he was not obliged to speak to them or answer any questions to them. Contacted by The Lounge for comment Matundu said the appointment of Karimuti was made duly by the board and the board does not consult staff members on appointments. “The board has a prerogative to head hunt and that’s what we did.”
According to Karimuti, he was appointed on the 12 January 2017 with immediate effect. He said that he enquired about the position when the previous station manager left. He was then asked to send in his documents which he did and was eventually called for an interview last year in September. He adds that they were about three candidates who were interviewed. He added that the acting station manager was also present in the meeting when it was announced that he was taking over as station manager. “That is why I am surprised to hear that she didn’t know about my appointment.”
Upon notification that the staff was going off air, Matundu asked the acting station manager to step down with immediate effect for Karimuti to take over. The staff thereby objected to the chairperson’s demand saying that they are of the opinion that Base FM is a community radio station and things need to be done in a transparent manner.
The presenters have decided to stay off air until Matundu sits with them and explain to them the way forward. They will be engaging Communications Regulations Authority (CRAN) and the Ministry of Information and Technology on the fracas in which the station finds itself.