Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Macra pumps MK10m into MJ's pirate radio

Malawi's Information and Civic Education Minister Leckford Thotho. Pic exclusively by Malawi Digest.

By Emmanuel Sobilika

The broadcasting regulator, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) says that it will pump about MK10 million into a pirate radio station that was closed down by the body over two weeks ago.

This was disclosed on Tuesday at a press briefing held in the commercial city, Blantyre by Macra’s acting Director General Mike Kuntiya.

The Standard 7 school drop-out, Gabriel Kondesi was arrested on 14 October, this year for operating a radio station called Pachikweza without a broadcasting license.

Two days later, the Mulanje Magistrate Court fined 21-year-old Kondesi MK50, 000.00 or face 10 months imprisonment with hard labour.

However, two days later, villagers who had benefited from the boy’s creativity together with his parents sold their little property and organized a MK50, 000.00 before freeing the boy from custody.

Since then, news about Gabriel Kondesi has been making headlines both locally and internationally where a lot of people and organizations have come out in the open to help the young man who used his creativity to the benefit of his community.

It is on this wavelength that Macra has decided to renovate the pirate Pachikweza radio station into a community radio station.

Kuntiya said that apart from renovating and upgrading the existing Pachikweza radio station, Macra has taken on board the young man whose creativity has mesmerized many people around the world.

“The radio will be run by the villagers themselves and Gabriel Kondesi will become one of the directors running the station,” said Kuntiya.

Kuntiya conceded that whilst they appreciate what the boy did was against the Laws of Malawi, it was also understood that he did this out of desperation to broadcast to his fellow communities.

“He is a talented and creative young man,” he said.

Speaking to Malawi Digest soon after Macra made the announcement; Kondesi said that he was humbled that his idea of Pachikweza radio had born fruits for a community radio station in his home area.

“I am very pleased that our community will have a radio station that will be broadcasting specifically into our area as I was doing with my Pachikweza radio,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kondesi disclosed that he is going back to school after a well wisher pledged to pay for his school fees.

“I will be working at this radio station on part time basis whilst continuing with my education in order to achieve my ambition of becoming an engineer,” he said.

This is the first time in Malawi that Macra has arrested an individual for operating a pirate radio station in the country.

Before his arrest, Gabriel Kondesi had been operating Pachikweza Radio Station in areas surrounding the boarder areas of Limbuli in Mulanje.

Kondesi used local materials such as car batteries, television aerial, wires and a radio cassette player to operate this illegal radio station for over 3 years.

Two years ago, the boy went to Macra to apply for a radio license but his efforts were frustrated when Macra failed to come back to him despite assurances that supervisory body would come back to him through the Mulanje District Commissioner.

Macra’s decision to open a community radio station in Soza Village in Traditional Authority Njema in the mountainous tea growing district of Mulanje concides with a visit to their offices by Information and Civic Education Minister Leckford Thotho on Friday.

Thotho, who is the official government spokesperson spent hours visiting Macra headquarters on a familiarization tour before meeting senior officials for closed door discussions.

It is not known if the issue of Gabriel Kondesi was one of the items on the agenda at this high level meeting-Malawi Digest.


  1. Good show MACRA, support people based on MERIT not otherwise!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Well done MACRA, osati, sending the boy to prison. This is now good for the nation,mostly to other youngsters who are also doing the same.

  3. Kodi nkhani iliyonse izisanduka merit vs quota. Timve zina bwanji? aaaah mwatikwana.