Some Burundian radio journalists forced to work as volunteers

“I have just worked for more than 5 years without being paid. I preferred to work as a volunteer to avoid staying idle,” says a young journalist working for a community radio station operating in Gitega province in central Burundi on the occasion of the celebration of the World Radio Day this 13 February.

Frederic Nahimana, Minister of Communication

He accuses his boss of exploiting his staff by making them understand that his medium does not receive funding and that it does not generate income. “He is not willing to pay us,” says the young man on condition of anonymity.

Another journalist working for a private radio operating in the economic capital Bujumbura tells a story of his colleague who was fired from his job because he claimed his salary. “No one dares to claim wages for fear of being dismissed,” he says.

Many journalists working for community and religious radio stations in the country suffer the same fate. Some have lodged complaints to the Ministry of Communication, but no action has been taken in their favor.

Onésime Harubuntu, Chairman of the association of radio stations broadcasting from Burundi says each medium is economically independent and therefore no one has the right to interfere in its internal organization. “But, each worker must be paid depending on the contract they signed with their boss,” says Harubuntu.

FrédericNahimana, Minister of Communication says to be aware of the situation. He calls on media officials to get all it takes before starting a radio station. He asks the National Communication Council which grants approval to new media before they start broadcasting or publishing news to analyze their budget plans before allowing them to operate.