Former staff of Radio Democracy 98.1 FM has today issued a Statement of Clarification, following their resignations.
The statement reads as follow;
“We thought our resignation statements would address the speculations and rumours about goings- at Radio Democracy. Clearly, this is a matter of public interest and we appreciate the concern people are showing. The Chairman of the Board Dr Julius Spencer, has released a statement trying to explain what happened. That statement has triggered a new wave of discussion and at this point we, the undersigned former staff of Radio Democracy, feel compelled to address the partial story in the statement made by the Board Chairman. We are not using this to settle scores, but to provide much – needed clarity and in the interest of transparency and accountability.
Radio Democracy’s issues did not start with our resignation and the appointment of a “consultant Station Manager”. It has been festering for a very long time and the Board is well aware. We challenge the Board to prove that they were not aware of the issues. From recruitment to staff departures, the Board has shown no interest in the conduct of affairs. We challenge the Board to provide evidence of due process in the recruitment of some of the administrative positions over the last Ten years.
Throughout this period, an atmosphere of disrespect and intimidation became the order of the day. Institutional bullying and harassment resulted in an environment of fear. No one could speak up and the Board was complacent in all of this.
We don’t even want to get into issues of financial transparency and accountability. Let those who donated to Radio Democracy take interest in that. We have our concerns but that is a topic for whoever comes after to do their own findings.
At some point the outgoing station manager Mrs. Asmaa James hired Dr. Julius Spencer as a consultant to look into the problems staff were faced with, a pile of issues were laid before him by the staff. He interviewed everyone separately, on the pretext of the same “restructuring” that he is claiming today. Disappointingly, the status quo remained the same. Staff morale continued to go down as they lost trust in the Board which is essentially a group of cronies and a rubberstamp. Critical voices resigned and those who remained have since been side-lined. This was evident in the deterioration of programme quality and output. Loyal listeners to 98.1 must have sensed the issues in the quality of programming.
We challenge the Board, particularly the Chairman, to provide records of any discussions they had about the issues staff have been raising for years now. They never took it seriously. Instead, the management weaponizied the Board against the staff. At some point in 2022, they cooked up a plan to pay everyone their so-called end of service benefits—an amount only they know how they calculated.The method was never explained.
The Board Chairman, now trying to do damage control, explained In his recent statement that they hired a consultant to oversee the transition from Mrs. Asmaa James. They must provide any official communication to the staff regarding this transition. No one was aware, everything was shrouded in secrecy until the day they brought in the “consultant” to assume duties. We look forward to any records disproving this.
We challenge the Chairman to present minutes of their meeting in which all the deliberations were held and decisions made regarding the transition and the hiring of a consultant. They should disclose dated minutes and signed attendance lists, so that the public can see how decisions were made.
We also challenge the Chairman and the Board to disclose how the consultant was identified and recruited. Let Dr. Spencer and the rest of the rubberstamp Board produce the paperwork. Even if it was a headhunt, there must have been a paper trail. It’s unfortunate that the poor guy has walked into a mess that he doesn’t even understand. Now he’s facing a situation he didn’t create. Those who built Radio Democracy seem to be the same ones undoing it.
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has a seat on the Board. That seat has been vacant for years now and they never claimed it or made a fuss about it the fact that they were not given an opportunity to be on the Board. So, there was no one to defend the journalists working at Radio Democracy. We were on our own. No one was interested in the fact that the Board has been hijacked to serve a certain interest.
Everyone is used to the fact that people leave Radio Democracy quietly regardless of the circumstances. People moved on quietly which is why we are where we are today. Those of us who remained have been quiet and putting up because we wanted to be professional and besides, we worked in an environment of fear. Our departure is not unique but it sheds light on a long history of abuse, tyranny and divide and rule.
We are gone, but anyone interested in helping Radio Democracy must start with the Board. The current board must be ashamed and they should all just resign quietly and let new set of well- meaning people take over. It must be part of the fresh blood that Dr. Spencer referred in an audio he sent out. There is an opportunity for change and civil society that owns the radio must not allow the current board to continue their shenanigans.
The Chairman and the rest of the Board need to be honest with the public. We have moved on and we have no hard feelings. We are doing very well and in fact, this is an opportunity for u s to look beyond the familiar terrain and take on new challenges. So, we are not bitter. This statement is needed to set the record straight and we hope it will. We have all invested in Radio Democracy, spending years working with the Station, and we want the best for it and the faithful listeners. Therefore, we hope for the best.
Mabel, Kadijah, and Alex.”