Today on Afrobeat Radio in New York, Producer Wuyi Jacobs speaks with Kenyan Social Justice Activist Onyango Oloo. Ann Garrison also talks to Jared Sacks and Cindy Abahlali on shackdweller’s movement attempting to build a township in Capetown named Marikana. Law Professor Charles Kambanda presents his view on why prosecutor’s witnesses may have recanted their testimony in Rwanda’s Victoire Ingabire Umuhosa’s appeal trial.
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September 1, 2012
This 41-page dissertation explores the case of Star Radio in Liberia, highlighting a number of issues about media development in post-conflict countries. According to the report, Star Radio is one of Liberia’s leading nationally broadcast radio stations, which went off-air at the end of 2010 following a staff strike. This study argues that it may be impossible for stations attempting to provide national public service to be either fully commercial or partially state-financed. The four sections of the study discuss relevant theoretical debates about media development, the use of interviews to collect and analyse data, themes that arose from the interview material, and the implications for the broader media development debates. The report also makes suggestions for further innovation in media development practice and research.
The report explaisn that in January 2011, amidst much public controversy, Star Radio “temporarily’ closed, though the station had effectively been off air since November 2010, starting when station staff, demanding salary arrears and the resignation of the station manager, had gone on strike. In the intervening months a series of bitter negotiations, at times brokered by the Ministry of Labor had ensued. By the end of December 2010, salary arrears had been made and the station manager did resign but shortly thereafter the Board, wanting to ‘start afresh’ retired all staff, awarded them severance packages, and invited new applications for all positions. Besieged by new financial, staffing, and credibility challenges as a result of this controversy, eight months after its closure, at the time of writing in August 2011, the station had not reopened. A significant amount of the research for this paper involved understanding the events that led to Star Radio’s closure. According to the author, at first glance it might appear that the challenges Star Radio encountered were strictly technical it does not account for the entire puzzle. The report outlines the following as key aspects of the closure, as raised in the course of the research.
- Capacity Limitations: To begin with, staff at the station had very limited experience in the business side of a commercial radio station. Star Radio never had a clearly articulated strategy for positioning themselves within the competitive, but nascent, commercial media environment that has been growing in Monrovia. One of the key lessons Foundacion Hirondelle representatives attribute to the experience of Star Radio is that it takes more than three years to successfully strengthen management skills within media institutions so that staff can maximise commercial funding opportunities.
- Resource Mismanagement Allegations: five of the seven interviewed for this research raised allegations that the station manager had deliberately ‘mismanaged’ Star Radio revenue, to his own advantage. These concerns seemed to have made their way throughout media circles, and several other respondents alluded to potential problems of corruption.
- Lack of strategic vision: Several respondents speculated that some of Star Radios’ financial problems might have been resolved had Star Radio pared down its operations earlier, an option that had been discussed with Foundacion Hirondelle but ultimately discarded. As has been noted elsewhere, ‘a major hurdle to sustainability is over-sized support, where donors have come in with expensive equipment, facilities, high salaries and vehicles, only for the media organisation to collapse when donors pull out.
- Issues around independence: Concerns were raised about the continued independence of the station’s management. These concerns only rose to importance once the station had run into the financial troubles that precipitated the staff strike of November 2010. The concerns about independence were not about editorial control, but instead centred on three key points: 1) the perceived relationship between Board members and the Government of Liberia; 2) the role of the government in resolving the crisis; and 3) a lack of clarity about the ownership structure of the station.
- Relationship between the Board and the Government of Liberia: Star Radio Board members were not supposed to hold positions in government.
- Lack of clarity around ownership issues: There was not a clear understanding on the ground as to what ownership structures had been worked out once Star Radio transitioned completely to a nationally-owned and -managed entity. Given the other concerns about independence discussed above, this ultimately meant that station employees were able to question whether or not the Board was even the right authority to be making decisions about the station.
The study concludes that the case of Star Radio highlights at least two important considerations in media development theory and practice: 1) the value of, and role for, national-level media in contexts of both state- and nation-building; and 2) the benefit of public service-style media within these contexts, emphasising the need to delink this concept from its traditional business model corollary of public-sector funding. This leads to a third conclusion about the need for further innovation and coordination in support for public service-style media in post-conflict countries, given constraints on both private- and public-sector resources.
The report states that, as the case of Star Radio exemplifies, the state-building and nation-building needs of post-conflict settings demand a reconsideration of many of the liberal democratic assumptions that underpin media development. Further empirical research on media development in these contexts, especially in countries like Sierra Leone where PSB initiatives are underway, are needed. Similarly, greater collaboration and interaction between actors involved in the development of various sectors is required in order to move the debate forward.
For more details and the authors contact, please leave us an email.
Credit: Communication Initiative http://www.comminit.com/africa/content/peace-building-and-public-service-media-lessons-star-radio-media-developments-liberia
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CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez, the fiery populist who declared a socialist revolution in Venezuela, crusaded against U.S. influence and championed a leftist revival across Latin America, died Tuesday at age 58 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer.
Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, surrounded by other government officials, announced the death in a national television broadcast. He said Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. local time.
During more than 14 years in office, Chavez routinely challenged the status quo at home and internationally. He polarized Venezuelans with his confrontational and domineering style, yet was also a masterful communicator and strategist who tapped into Venezuelan nationalism to win broad support, particularly among the poor.
Chavez repeatedly proved himself a political survivor. As an army paratroop commander, he led a failed coup in 1992, then was pardoned and elected president in 1998. He survived a coup against his own presidency in 2002 and won re-election two more times.
The burly president electrified crowds with his booming voice, often wearing the bright red of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela or the fatigues and red beret of his army days. Before his struggle with cancer, he appeared on television almost daily, talking for hours at a time and often breaking into song of philosophical discourse.
Chavez used his country’s vast oil wealth to launch social programs that include state-run food markets, new public housing, free health clinics and education programs. Poverty declined during Chavez’s presidency amid a historic boom in oil earnings, but critics said he failed to use the windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars to develop the country’s economy.
Inflation soared and the homicide rate rose to among the highest in the world.
Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June 2011 to remove what he said was a baseball-size tumour from his pelvic region, and the cancer returned repeatedly over the next 18 months despite more surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He kept secret key details of his illness, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors.
“El Comandante,” as he was known, stayed in touch with the Venezuelan people during his treatment via Twitter and phone calls broadcast on television, but even those messages dropped off as his health deteriorated.
Two months after his last re-election in October, Chavez returned to Cuba again for cancer surgery, blowing a kiss to his country as he boarded the plane. He was never seen again in public.
After a 10-week absence marked by opposition protests over the lack of information about the president’s health and growing unease among the president’s “Chavista” supporters, the government released photographs of Chavez on Feb. 15 and three days later announced that the president had returned to Venezuela to be treated at a military hospital in Caracas.
Throughout his presidency, Chavez said he hoped to fulfil Bolivar’s unrealized dream of uniting South America.
He was also inspired by Cuban leader Fidel Castro and took on the aging revolutionary’s role as Washington’s chief antagonist in the Western Hemisphere after Castro relinquished the presidency to his brother Raul in 2006.
Supporters saw Chavez as the latest in a colorful line of revolutionary legends, from Castro to Argentine-born Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Chavez nurtured that cult of personality, and even as he stayed out of sight for long stretches fighting cancer, his out-sized image appeared on buildings and billboard throughout Venezuela. The airwaves boomed with his baritone mantra: “I am a nation.” Supporters carried posters and wore masks of his eyes, chanting, “I am Chavez.”
Chavez saw himself as a revolutionary and saviour of the poor.
“A revolution has arrived here,” he declared in a 2009 speech. “No one can stop this revolution.”
Chavez’s social programs won him enduring support: Poverty rates declined from 50 per cent at the beginning of his term in 1999 to 32 per cent in the second half of 2011. But he also charmed his audience with sheer charisma and a flair for drama that played well for the cameras.
He ordered the sword of South American independence leader Simon Bolivar removed from Argentina’s Central Bank to unsheathe at key moments. On television, he would lambast his opponents as “oligarchs,” announce expropriations of companies and lecture Venezuelans about the glories of socialism. His performances included renditions of folk songs and impromptu odes to Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong and 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Chavez carried his in-your-face style to the world stage as well. In a 2006 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he called President George W. Bush the devil, saying the podium reeked of sulfur after Bush’s address.
Critics saw Chavez as a typical Latin American caudillo, a strongman who ruled through force of personality and showed disdain for democratic rules. Chavez concentrated power in his hands with allies who dominated the congress and justices who controlled the Supreme Court.
He insisted all the while that Venezuela remained a vibrant democracy and denied trying to restrict free speech. But some opponents faced criminal charges and were driven into exile.
While Chavez trumpeted plans for communes and an egalitarian society, his soaring rhetoric regularly conflicted with reality. Despite government seizures of companies and farmland, the balance between Venezuela’s public and private sectors changed little during his presidency.
And even as the poor saw their incomes rise, those gains were blunted while the country’s currency weakened amid economic controls.
Nonetheless, Chavez maintained a core of supporters who stayed loyal to their “comandante” until the end.
“Chavez masterfully exploits the disenchantment of people who feel excluded … and he feeds on controversy whenever he can,” Cristina Marcano and Alberto Barrera Tyszka wrote in their book “Hugo Chavez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela’s Controversial President.”
Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias was born on July 28, 1954, in the rural town of Sabaneta in Venezuela’s western plains. He was the son of schoolteacher parents and the second of six brothers.
Chavez was a fine baseball player and hoped he might one day pitch in the U.S. major leagues. When he joined the military at age 17, he aimed to keep honing his baseball skills in the capital.
But the young soldier immersed himself in the history of Bolivar and other Venezuelan heroes who had overthrown Spanish rule, and his political ideas began to take shape.
Chavez burst into public view in 1992 as a paratroop commander leading a military rebellion that brought tanks to the presidential palace. When the coup collapsed, Chavez was allowed to make a televised statement in which he declared that his movement had failed “for now.” The speech, and those two defiant words, launched his career, searing his image into the memory of Venezuelans.
He and other coup prisoners were released in 1994, and President Rafael Caldera dropped the charges against them.
Chavez then organized a new political party and ran for president four years later, vowing to shatter Venezuela’s traditional two-party system. At age 44, he became the country’s youngest president in four decades of democracy with 56 per cent of the vote.
Chavez was re-elected in 2000 in an election called under a new constitution drafted by his allies. His increasingly confrontational style and close ties to Cuba, however, disenchanted many of the middle-class supporters who had voted for him. The next several years saw bold but failed attempts by opponents to dislodge him from power.
In 2002, he survived a short-lived coup, which began after a large anti-Chavez street protest ended in deadly shootings. Dissident military officers detained the president and announced he had resigned. But within two days, he returned to power with the help of military loyalists while his supporters rallied in the streets.
Chavez emerged a stronger president. He defeated a subsequent opposition-led strike that paralyzed the country’s oil industry, and he fired thousands of state oil company employees.
The coup also turned Chavez more decidedly against the U.S. government, which had swiftly recognized the provisional leader who had briefly replaced him. He created political and trade alliances that excluded the U.S., and he cozied up to Iran and Syria in large part, it seemed, due to their shared antagonism toward the U.S. government.
He easily won re-election in 2006, and then said it was his destiny to lead Venezuela until 2021 or even 2031.
“I’m still a subversive,” Chavez said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press. “I think the entire world has to be subverted.”
Playing such a larger-than-life public figure ultimately left little time for a personal life.
His second marriage, to journalist Marisabel Rodriguez, deteriorated in the early years of his presidency, and they divorced in 2004. In addition to their one daughter, Rosines, Chavez had three children from his first marriage, which ended before Chavez ran for office.
Chavez acknowledged after he was diagnosed with cancer that he had been recklessly neglecting his health. He had taken to staying up late and drinking as many as 40 cups of coffee a day. He regularly summoned his Cabinet ministers to the presidential palace late at night.
He often said he believed Venezuela was on its way down a long road toward socialism, and that there was no turning back. After winning re-election in 2012, he vowed to deepen his push to transform Venezuela.
His political movement, however, was mostly a one-man show. Only three days before his final surgery, Chavez named Maduro as his chosen successor.
Now, it will be up to Venezuelans to determine whether the Chavismo movement can survive, and how it will evolve, without the leader who inspired it.
Biographical information for this report was contributed by former Caracas bureau chief Ian James.
The biggest match of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 gets out of the way early during the second leg slate. Real Madrid and Manchester United resume their marquee tie on Tuesday, and both sides are in excellent form. Both teams are also relatively injury free, and are only expected to be missing one first choice player apiece.
Danny Welbeck was the hero for United in the first leg, scoring a crucial away goal for his team. Los Merengues pulled one back, but they’re facing a tricky prospect at Old Trafford, with their hosts having scored an away goal. Jose Mourinho’s proven to be a master of the defensive draw in knockout competitions, but he will have to set up his team to attack on Tuesday night.
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Results of the presidential election in Kenya are yet to be released, but an early provisional tally Monday night, based on about 10 percent of ballots cast, shows Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s founding father and an accused criminal, in the lead.
Reuters reports that of the 14.3 million registered voters in the East African country of 42 million, turnout was around 70 percent. To accommodate the crowds, many polling stations stayed open late. Some determined voters waited for several hours to cast their ballot.
Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s deputy prime minister, is ahead of his rival Raila Odinga, but it was still too early to predict the outcome.
They turned out in their millions despite fears of violence – with reports of at least 16 people killed before polls opened, and gunmen attempting to seize two polling stations in the town of Garissa after they closed.
Earlier, gangs armed with machetes, knives and bows and arrows carried out four separate attacks on voting centres close to the country’s Indian Ocean coast.
News of the raids, soon after midnight on Monday, did not deter millions of voters from leaving home well before dawn. Lines of people hundreds of feet long formed in the dark before the ballot’s official start at 6am.
Close to 100,000 soldiers, police officers, prison guards and reservists were stationed at 33,400 polling stations across the country, and patrolled potential flashpoints. There had been fears of a repeat of violence in 2007, which sparked six weeks of violence that left 1,100 people dead and 600,000 forcibly evicted from their homes.
The only significant eruptions of violence were the coast attacks, which police blamed on the secessionist Mombasa Republican Council.
Its members last week warned The Daily Telegraph that they were “prepared” violently to disrupt the elections.
Nine police officers and one wildlife warden drafted in to protect the were killed in Mombasa, Kenya’s second city, and close to the popular beach towns of Malindi and Kilifi. Two civilians and four gang members also died.
A spokesman for the MRC denied involvement. The group is campaigning for coastal Kenyans to boycott the vote and instead agitate for secession.
A dozen people contacted by The Daily Telegraph across Kenya said that the process was peaceful, but many reported problems with a new computerised voter identification system.
Peter Mwangi, whose grandmother died in a fire at a church started by supporters of rival politicians after the last election, said there was “no tension” at home in Kiambaa, 190 miles northwest of the capital, Nairobi.
“The only problem is that this thing is complicated,” he said. “People are taking long to vote, and the machines are causing problems. People don’t understand exactly what they are doing.”
This is Kenya’s most complicated, and expensive, general election at £170 million. The 14.4 million voters yesterday chose from 12,461 candidates for six elective positions, from president to local assemblymen.
Kennedy Omondi, 31, was the first voter into Polling Station No 6 at the Olympic Secondary School in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s largest shanty towns.
The thumbprint voter registration system failed to recognise him, despite millions of pounds spent on its development. Mr Omondi was eventually manually identified.
Within five minutes however he had marked all six ballot papers, slotted them into the clear plastic locked ballot boxes, and was ready to leave for work.
“Voting to me is the thing that makes all Kenyans equal,” he said. “Whether you are a rich man or a poor man, everyone has one vote. It is our right as Kenyans.”
Both leading presidential candidates, Mr Odinga, 68, the prime minister, and Mr Kenyatta, 51, the former finance minister, made eleventh-hour appeals to ensure their supporters voted.
Despite peaceful voting, there were still concerns that any suggestion the final result was not fair could cause chaos.
Mr Odinga’s camp has accused government officers of illegally backing his rival. Mr Kenyatta himself faces charges at the International Criminal Court, which he denies, over his alleged role in the post-election violence in 2007 and 2008.
Christabel Anyona, who works for a health charity, said she was worried.
“I’m not confident that people have learned anything after the last election,” she said after waiting three hours to vote at Kilimani Primary School in a middle-class suburb of Nairobi.
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Credits: Telegraph UK, NY Times