The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has recently closed down Zibonele Community Radio (Zibonele FM). The reasons for the closure are being disputed between the regulator and the station.
According to ICASA, the station has been operating without a license since 2018, while the station says they did everything by the book, and Icasa’s objections to their application are frivolous.
In a statement, the regulator said, “Unfortunately, Zibonele FM failed to submit the required renewal application for its licence under section 19(2) of the Electronic Communications Act of 2005. Moreover, Zibonele FM failed to provide proof that its renewal application was submitted to the Authority before the expiry date of the licence. The ECA offers the Authority no scope to accept late applications in cases such as this. As a result, Zibonele FM is broadcasting unauthorised, and Icasa is duly obligated to enforce the law.”
At a press conference recently, station manager Mawande Jara stated, “When our licence was due to expire, an application was made six months before, and this is included in the court papers submitted.”
Jara further stated that the station management would engage with the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni for intervention.
The station also lodged an urgent application with the Pretoria High Court against the Authority on the matter.
Acting chairperson, Charley Lewis, emphasises that “While ICASA is committed to promoting the growth of community radio stations, which plays a critical role in empowering and giving a voice to our communities, we can not permit broadcasting without a licence or illegal use of the radio frequency spectrum.”