Despite South Africa having ratified several laws, and having one of the most admired constitutions in the world, the plight of many South Africans after 20 years of democracy remains, in many respects, dire. The country is still facing a challenge in creating sufficient employment opportunities and to sustainably address intergenerational poverty, the latter of which impacts most severely on the communities in rural areas.
However, the country as one of the most influential countries in Africa; prides itself in of the observance of human rights and more so than any country in the continent. One of those rights is the ‘Freedom of Speech’. When we talk of freedom of speech, we include the liberties to express ourselves verbally, artistically, in the work place, in the public domain, in private and public institutions, in places of religion and most predominantly through media houses of different types. One of the best means to be heard is through our South African community media.
This type of media touches the real essence of millions of people at once on real and relevant issues for our communities. The message cuts across political persuasion, economic and social status of South African communities hence it is significant for community communication. Community communication entails interaction with the audience and is concerned with everyday life of ordinary people. Thus it has a social building aim. The literature review over the years has shown that community media can become a successful and resourceful tool for the activities of the civil society. For instance, feminist groups in some parts of the world have emphasized the importance of alternative/ community media practices over the main stream ones in the process of women empowerment. These media are a way to promote feminist ideas and to counteract misrepresentation of women in the societies.
There are more than 165 community radio stations nationwide, print media and now newly established community television stations in South Africa. However, there impact is not what it should be.
Some are able to renew their licenses with ICASA while others are not due to lack of compliance on governance matters and lack of funds. The government is doing its part to support community media but it is quite obvious that it is not enough. If we continue to turn a blind eye to this situation as a community, we will eventually end up with little or no community media. We will lose our voice as a community and we will be poorly informed about what is happening in our own backyard and a country as a whole.
The lack of knowledge that the community has about the running of their own media leave them frustrated and desperate for answers when their local community media closes down. It is without saying that the government cannot explain in detail every operational sector in the country, but there is a huge need to find ways in informing the community on how the media works and how the community can contribute in assisting the local media to continuously be operational For these and many other reasons, ISO Trading places a high priority on creating a conducive environment for the community media to operate hence the South African Community Media Conference concept has been developed.
Please contact Zamangwana Bhengu on 0761397776 or email@example.com