Firebrand arts guru Cont Mhlanga claims that the ailing Amakhosi Cultural Centre’s woes were caused by the sudden relocation of Skyz Metro FM from the centre to Pioneer House in Bulawayo’s city centre.
By Sindiso Dube
Amakhosi, which used to produce outstanding artistes in yesteryears, has become a pale shadow of its former self, crippled by financial difficulties and a leadership vacuum after Mhlanga retired in 2016.
Bulawayo’s first commercial radio station, which started broadcasting in November 2016, moved from its initial base, Amakhosi Cultural Centre, to Pioneer house citing poor radio signals in the area.
However, Mhlanga, who was at the helm of Amakhosi back then, has sensationally claimed that Skyz Metro FM “betrayed” the culture centre, which had started producing content with radio in mind.
“Amakhosi is facing financial problems and the current leadership is working hard to come up with revenue streams that will be sustainable,” Mhlanga recently told The Standard Style in an exclusive interview.
“Apart from non-governmental organisations, we look forward to start getting revenue from the investment of our 70% stake in Skyz Metro FM and Breeze FM [Victoria Falls].
“Once that revenue starts coming in, Charles Musunga, the new Amakhosi director, will be set for smooth sailing.
Skyz Metro FM is in its second year of operation and Mhlanga believes it’s a matter of time before the revenue starts trickling into Amakhosi.
“It’s unfortunate the radio station started at a time when I was retiring and also our programming was disrupted after the station made a sudden shift from the centre to Pioneer House,” he said.
Mhlanga said Amakhosi spent most of their time preparing for the radio.
“We had prepared for radio for many years and for the five years prior to the launch, we had stashed loads of content which was produced in line with the radio,” he said.
“Amakhosi was meant to feed the radio with content, but it didn’t come to pass as initially agreed.
“We wasted money renovating the centre. Now we can’t use Amakhosi as it used to be because it had taken the radio set-up. We had closed Amakhosi for renovations to accommodate the radio station and all was put to waste.”
The theatre guru would not divulge the reason why Skyz Metro FM moved to Pioneer House.
“I can’t discuss the reasons for the move at the moment because they are not for this conversation, but it was not in good faith,” he said.
“Hopefully, Amakhosi will soon get something from the two radio stations so that it returns to its former state.”
Fair Talk Communications CEO Qhubani Moyo refuted Mhlanga’s claims, saying the move was technical.
“We had challenges in terms of transmission at Amakhosi because it is a low-lying area from Transmedia, which is in Montrose,” Moyo said.
“We thought we needed a higher ground and a clear line of sight with the transmission towers, hence our decision to relocate to Pioneer House.
“At Amakhosi we were supposed to use optic fibre lines which were not reliable, hence we moved to Pioneer house.”
However, Moyo acknowledged that Amakhosi had made some investment for the radio project.
“It was unfortunate that we had no choice as technical issues forced us to move from our initial base,” he said.
Moyo said Skyz Metro FM still allowed collaborations with Amakhosi.
“Mhlanga is the vice-chairperson of the board of trustees and we jointly own 70% shares of Fair Talk Communications,” he said.
“I can say the station still allows collaborations with Amakhosi. It’s just a matter of sitting down and discussing how best it can be done.”