By Reagan Malumo
“Enough is enough, we have suffered a lot,” read one placard held by an NBC worker during the ongoing NBC strike at Katima Mulilo that has severely affected the popular Silozi Service.
NBC employees at Katima Mulilo staged a strike as well, joining colleagues involved in a crippling countrywide work stoppage.
Throughout the day, the NBC has been playing music non-stop as there is no local programming for both local and international news and for several of its well-liked phone-in and other programmes.
Apart from the music, there is a blackout of a variety of services provided through the Silozi Service on which many people rely.
For example, there are no announcements of funerals and stolen goods recovered and for personal greetings, leaving many people disappointed.
And the local version of the popular Open Line, ‘Maikuto’, is affected.
Workers have vowed to continue picketing its premises until their demands for a salary increase of six percent and a nine percent across-the-board hike backdated to 2003 are fulfilled.
Villagers in the remotest parts of the Caprivi are among the worst affected because they are completely cut off. They do not have any other news medium through which they may be updated, and to make matters worse, they do not have a clue on what is happening about the strike as well.
Some people long used to uninterrupted radio service even during the colonial era are wondering how workers at such an important institution like the NBC could go on strike.
But since Tuesday morning, all NBC employees at Katima Mulilo, except the manager and the security guards, could be seen picketing in the sun as the overcast conditions made the weather cold and strikers rather went in search of the available warmth.
“Look at me, I am very thin because of hunger and my salary is very small,” complained one NBC employee.
“We are sitting outside here and we are seeing a lot of people who are coming to put their death announcements in the box but no one is going to open the announcement box and announce them if they don’t give us our money,” said another NBC employee.
According to the manager of the NBC Silozi Service, Patrick Nzundamo, members of the public are depositing messages at the station but are being told there would be no broadcasting until further notice.
“The solution must come from the NBC management in Windhoek, because they are the ones who are busy discussing with the unions and the Government to try to resolve the issue.
“And it is not only the Silozi Service, but all the 10 NBC radio services countrywide are affected the same way.”