Crown Prince M’mbelwa V has come under fire for taking a community radio station off air following weeks of disagreements with the station’s management and board.
What began as a strike by volunteers protesting against what some of them termed “slavish working conditions” and “meagre pay” on August 4 compelled the Inkosi ya Makhosi and his chiefs’ council to seal Mzimba Community Radio (MCR), repossess the keys and suspend station manager Lance Ngulube with no concrete solution in sight.
However, the lingering uncertainty over the reopening of the broadcaster has been worsened by its board tell-all letter to the supreme leader of Mzimba Ngonis indicating that the chiefs have no power to hire and fire radio personnel.
On Monday, Ngulube said a conspiracy has long been underway to eliminate him from the helm and the volunteers who were clamouring for a pay hike might be decoys in the subtle scheme.
“Around 11.10am, a rowdy crowd marched to the community radio with the intention to abduct me. The police arrived almost 40 minutes later and left after a few discussions. The mob got angrier and started ransacking the station baying for my life.
“Fortunately, the police came back in the nick of time—just when the multitude was about to break into the room where I was hiding,” he said in an interview.
When asked, M’mbelwa said the August 12 meeting suspended Ngulube because all discussions showed he was allegedly mishandling the station.
“It is true I sent the officer-in-charge of police to take the key because people were fighting for ownership of the radio station and there were sad stories of volunteers being paid K6 000 or less ever since the station opened,” said M’mbelwa.
In another interview, MCR board chair George Kawamba confirmed overruling the chief’s decision.