All is not well at Duma FM As three more bite the dust
BY VOICE REPORTER
Duma FM’s station manager Alfred Busang has refuted allegations that the country’s youngest private owned radio station is under financial and political interference strain.
For the past six months eyebrows have been raised as top personnel left the station. To crown it all, this past week two Morning show presenters and a Programmes manager were served with identical ‘dismissal’ letters.
Barely three months into their probation period at Duma FM, morning presenters Moses Maruping and Kevin Thipe have, together with Programmes Manager Gabriel Rasengwatshe, been served with letters terminating their employment.
Worse still, the trio was head hunted for the jobs at the radio station and promised lucrative benefits as well as two-year contracts by Duma FM Consultant Robin Chivazve.
In an interview with The Voice, the trio spoke of the pain of arriving charged to work on Friday only to be told after their show that it would be their last.
Angry and shocked, the trio told The Voice that the dismissal was unfair especially since management never complained of under-performance. They were issued with the curt dismissal letters last Friday after their show and were not even given the chance to interact with their listeners.
The mandatory 14-day notice given is seen by the aggrieved threesome as a ploy not to pay them their due termination benefits. The notice, which started on May 14, ends in May 28, conveniently depriving the injured employees a full month’s notice pay for June.
In fact, not only have they been dumped by Duma FM but may leave with their May salary only. This is why, they see this as an “unfair dismissal’ which is vindictive and malicious.
“I was head-hunted by Robin because of my radio and electronic media background. He verbally told me I would be given a two-year contract. No probation was mentioned and for the two months at the station, there has never been a single complaint about my performance,” said a shaken Thipe aka Keppie.
Moses ‘Rudeboy Necta’ Marupingechoed his sentiments. “We were told by Robin that the decision for ending our employment was not personal but purely business. How come they don’t have the audacity to tell us what we did wrong?” asks Maruping.
Duma Fm’s former Programmes Manager, Rasengwatshe, smells a rat around their dismissal even though he can’t put his finger on it. But the trio won’t leave any stone unturned to uncover why the radio station has treated them so inhumanely.
They could not confirm that their dismissal was centered around live discussions they had involving the newly formed splinter party, Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) during the week of the World Press Day.
Robin Chivazve, the man at the centre of the controversy, could not be drawn to comment and referred The Voice to station manager, Alfred Busang. He however spoke on the issue of malice, saying, “Being vindictive is one of the words that have been used to describe me before. But I won’t comment on this issue as that is the job of the station manager.”
Duma FM management on Wednesday denied any political involvement and claimed the station did not have any financial problems.
In an interesting twist, the station’s Director Seyed Abolsadzl Jamal denied any knowledge of any dismissals and referred The Voice enquiries to the station manager, Busang
When asked if the station’s ambitious quest to reformat and get a new facelift may have affected their coffers, Busang said the station was self-sustainable. “We are generating sufficient revenue and we are far from bankruptcy. All this political and financial insinuation is just a ploy to create unnecessary hype,” he said.
Busang said the employees were on probation and did not meet the station’s requirements.
“They were not fired, I’d rather say they were not confirmed for their positions. There was nothing political about the whole thing because if there was, we would not have allowed them to host politicians in the last debate and allow callers to air their opinions.
“We are an independent radio station and there is no way we can be intimidated by political influence,” he said.
The latest dismissals follow the mass exodus of some of the country’s best talent from the station since late last year including the likes of Miso Mmereki, Michael ‘Dignash’ Morapedi,Pako Matlhare and Thato Selelo and Thabo Osekeng.
In March this year, Duma FM was before the industrial court and the station was ordered to pay February wages to two former marketing employees who were dismissed on February 24.
Making a ruling on the case, Judge de Villiers ordered Duma FM to pay the aggrieved women, Botho Mazebedi and Tlotlo Ramapatla within two days and further advised the pair to take their case for compensation of loss of employment for arbitration at a later date.