- Breaking news: A severe drought countrywide has prompted President Pohamba to declare a state of emergency.
NBC stand-off raises suspicion
Government’s stubborn reluctance to fund the NBC’s latest wage increases is gradually becoming questionable.
It comes barely four months after Members of Parliament, especially those representing the ruling party Swapo, threatened to withhold funds to the NBC and its sister parastatal New Era, for their allegedly pathetic and selective coverage of official events.
Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Tjekero Tweya even went so far as suggesting that journalists at these institutions must be fired.
We understand Tweya’s anger at the time because he made these remarks when he had made headlines for fencing of land measuring more than 3000 hectares in the Kavango Region.
Joining the chorus at the time were Foreign Affairs Minister Uutoni Nujoma, his Regional and Local Government counterpart Jerry Ekandjo and Paulus Kapia.
Nujoma, in particular, complained that the NBC was giving more airtime to business activities than to politics.
Consequently, Government told New Era’s founding editor, Rajah Munamava, to clear his desk and leave the institution he has helped shape for 21 years.
Whether this was a mere coincidence or anything to do with threats to fire journalists is a secret only know to its architects.
The NBC strike has far-reaching implications and those sitting on the funds need to be reminded of them.
Multi-million dollar bail-outs have been offered to commercial SOEs (State-Owned Enterprises) and it defies logic that a non-commercial, entity such as the NBC, is denied the same privilege.
TransNamib, Air Namibia and a host of other national entities continue to enjoy bail-outs.
These are institutions that have the leeway to pick and choose what business activities they want to venture into.
The NBC does not have that right.
The broadcaster is required and mandated to be everywhere all the time, irrespective of whether or not there are funds to cover such events or whether the particular news event is of relevance to its viewers and listeners.
We are living in a country where a minister would not address a media briefing until the NBC crew has arrived. This supposedly says a lot about the importance of the NBC to this country and its government.
Of course the NBC staff is not a bunch of saints. It’s an institution with its weaknesses and shortcomings, just like any other.
But what is currently happening – especially with regard to government’s lukewarm response - is worrisome and suspicious.