18 October 2013
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation went live on Thursday night with Ubuntu Radio, a 24-hour internet radio station aimed at enhancing communication on South Africa’s foreign policy and telling Africa’s stories from Africa’s perspective.
“South Africa has a good story to tell and we have done extremely well over the past 20 years. Our foreign policy has evolved, but that story is not being told,” the department’s head of public diplomacy, Clayson Monyela, told journalists in Pretoria ahead of the station’s launch.
Monyela said Ubuntu Radio – accessible via the internet at www.ubunturadio.com – would have a talk radio format, and would be a major source of reliable, recent and trusted news and conversations on foreign policy at a time when South Africa was positioning itself as a significant player on the continent as well as globally.
“It’s going to be a platform to change the views and opinions as well as getting inputs that can help shape South Africa’s foreign policy going forward,” he said.
With a target audience including both South Africans and the international community, Monyela said the station would raise public awareness and stimulate public discourse on the country’s foreign policy.
“The station will change how Africa is covered,” he added. It’s the first of its kind on the continent and the first in South Africa to operate under the auspices of a government institution for non-commercial purposes.
As a multimedia platform, Ubuntu is immediate, and will run live broadcasts of major department events, announcements and campaigns. It will also cover news and play African music.
There will also be lots of discussions and phone-in programmes inviting listeners to offer their views.
“We are not going to talk at our audience, but we are going to have discussions and conversations, because people need to know what informs decisions on certain matters,” Monyela said.
The department has roped in opinion makers, think-tanks, academics, diplomats and other key players in the field of diplomacy and international relations to host shows.
Among the contributors to the station will be Professor Eddie Moloka, analyst Siphamandla Zondi and reputation architect Thebe Ikalafeng. Other familiar names include actress Florence Masebe, news anchor Kgopedi Wa-Namane, Richard Nwamba, Chief Ntshingila, Mabine Seabe and JP Louw.
“We decided to involve people. Some are critics of our work, some are experts,” Monyela said, adding that the department was still talking to other personalities to complement the international staff.
While Monyela acknowledged the still limited internet access in South Africa, he said the department was developing apps for mobile to ensure that the platform was accessible to as many people as possible.
The station will also extend its reach by exchanging content for broadcast with identified media partners, including SABC’s Channel Africa.
The station’s website extends access to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as to the department’s Diplomat and Ubuntu magazines.