Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

Members of the Indian community feel the “attacks” on Lotus FM are part of a “ploy to bring down the Indian community”.

On Mionday night, Indian community organisations, including the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, held a public meeting at Durban’s Kendra Hall to discuss the future of the radio station.

Indians are outraged over the 90% music quota “foisted” on Lotus FM in May which has caused it to lose a third of its listenership.

Emotional community members said they felt that Indians were not appreciated.

“This is part of a ploy to bring down the Indian community,” Sunil Brijnath said.

“We saw it when they tried to oust Indians from the medical schools, we see it in the Treasury with Pravin Gordhan. Are we going to sit back and be cast out?

“This is a well-orchestrated plan to silence the Indian community,” Brijnath said.

It was confirmed at the meeting that a delegation would make representations to the SABC management as well as to Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on behalf of the community.

Last month The Mercury reported that Indians were angry over controversial comments made by SABC group executive for corporate affairs Hlaudi Motsoeneng to the Tsonga traditional leadership about renaming Lotus. The SABC denied the report, saying Motsoeneng’s comments were used to “create sensationalism”.

Another community member said last night: “Deciding to implement (these changes) shows they disrespect us completely. We participated sincerely in the struggle, and... the fight (for Lotus) is part of a bigger fight for Indians in SA.”

Listenership has dropped from 390 000 to 260 000 since the quota was introduced, and the advertising revenue has dipped as listeners tuned in to other stations.

A source at the station, who was not authorised to speak to the media, said yesterday that there would be no Lotus representation at the meeting as it was “a community initiative”.

“We were not consulted about the meeting,” the source said.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said yesterday that staff could attend the meeting in their personal capacity. He urged disgruntled listeners to write to the public service broadcaster to request a meeting with the station’s management.


The Mercury