Communications Minister Faith Muthambi says she will approach mobile service providers to erect cell phone towers so that residents of the rural village of Tau-Mankotsana Sekhukhune, Limpopo, can get connected.
“We are here to give you support. Last week, we had an engagement with one of the cell phone service providers who challenged us to give them a list of all the villages across our country with cell phone signal problems.
“As soon as the mayor gives me the list, I will take it straight to the cell phone service provider because they have already made a commitment of providing the necessary infrastructure to end this poor signal problem.
“I can tell you that very soon, residents of this area will enjoy using their cell phones just like those who are living in the suburbs,” she said on Friday.
Minister Muthambi was speaking at the remote village, which is under the rural Fetakgomo local municipality, as part of a Ministerial Imbizo with community media and government communicators.
Traditional leader Rammupudu Boleu II said: “I might be old but I’m interested in the issue of communication. I’m hands on and understand the importance of effective communication.
“We hope that once the cell phone towers are put up, villagers, especially young people, will be able to share our good stories with those who are far away from our village.”
Acting mayor of Fetakgomo, Kgowane Seroka, said there were serious challenges of communication in their rural municipality.
“As a rural municipality, we do not have a community radio station. We also do not have a community newspaper. Cell phone network is also a serious challenge faced by our communities, so we are appealing to the Minister to enhance the network capacity within the area of jurisdiction of our municipality.”
Helping community media
Tebogo Mokwena from the Tubatse based community newspaper, The Post, said: “We are a black owned local newspaper, responsible for telling stories to our communities without distorting information.
“We are interested in partnering with municipal communicators in order to tell our good stories but as you know, news doesn’t sell. It becomes a challenge for us to survive if local municipalities are not buying space in our community newspapers.
“… The biggest challenge facing both the print and community radio media is lack of finance. We are appealing to the Minister to encourage municipalities to aertise in our newspapers as it is very difficult for us to run the publication from our own pockets.
“As we are a mining district, we recently launched a magazine aimed at the daily challenges facing miners however, without the financial support from the local municipalities, it will remain a challenge for us to move Sekhukhune forward.
“We are ready to work with government communicators to popularise government’s programme of action in the rural communities,” he said.
Representing aspiring community media, Shatadi Matlou, from Bold magazine based in Jane Furse, said: “We started in May last year but I must confess that the expensive printing cost is a serious challenge. We think it will be fair for both the provincial and local government to aertise in our publication.”
Mpho Mpogeng, station manager from Sekhukhune community radio said they have 36 staff members whom they pay monthly as a result of the support they receive from the municipalities and the community.
“We are the good ambassadors of our district. We are telling the good stories of Sekhukhune with pride. We are also receiving financial support from the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) as a result of our good work. We pride ourselves as hard workers hence funders are forever coming to us.
“However, our challenge is the failure of clear understanding of the role of community media by certain municipal officials who always complain when we expose corruption in their municipalities because they are giving us business.”
Source : SAnews.gov.za