State Media Under Fire

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Windhoek

State media, especially the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and New Era newspaper, yesterday came under the spotlight at the 4th Swapo Party Congress underway at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek.

The Central Committee highlighted the two institutions in its report to the congress.

In the report, the Swapo Party Khomas Region complained about the NBC phone-in programmes and described them as a concern to the region and the country at large, as some callers use vulgar language against the party leadership.

The view from the Khomas Region was supported by a number of Central Committee members who said the programmes incite violence and promote tribalism.

The Central Committee members singled out the Oshiwambo call-in programmes and said the programmes are used to discredit and insult other party members.

A delegate to the congress further noted that it appears that a group of individuals are abusing the programmes to advance their individual interests.

The Central Committee members further charged that the cut-off devices the radios are expected to use to cut out foul language are not effective, and the managers at the radios are doing very little to stop abuse of the airwaves.

Another Central Committee member said the root problem with the abuse of the programmes is that the boards of directors and management of the two state institutions are collaborators of people that are planning to destroy the Swapo Party and are allowing these abuses to continue.

The boards of directors of these institutions are appointed by the line minister and approved by cabinet, while the appointments of the top management are recommended by the boards of directors to the minister who takes them to cabinet for approval.

Some delegates at the congress proposed that a media ombudsman should be appointed to hold the media accountable for some of its actions. Others proposed a media council, a body that will deal with complaints from the public about the media.

This is not the first time that NBC call-in programmes are being questioned and earlier this year, the programmes were briefly suspended but were back on air after the NBC management promised
better control.

Swapo Party members in the Khomas Region last year also held a peaceful demonstration against the call-in programmes and submitted a petition to the NBC to air their grievances.

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