Driven to the Extremes


Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

LAST week, the NBC Otjiherero Language Service hosted a programme to discuss the proper use of its airtime. I don’t know what prompted this discussion lately, but the use, abuse, lack of knowledge by the public in general, and worse by community leaders and political leaders to mention but some of the proper use of public airwaves is not a new concern. Nor is it the sole worry of the Otjiherero Language Service.

You may remember last year the suspension by the NBC of the Chat Show on the National Radio as well as other phone-in and current affairs programmes on the public broadcaster. One equally calls to mind the reservations of the then Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Honourable Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, against what she referred to as the abuse of the national airwaves, especially the language services, by some of our political leaders.

In defence of the people’s right to express themselves and the public broadcaster being the foremost channel through which they can exercise this constitutionally guaranteed right, I took exception through this column to what I considered to be a radical move by the NBC management to suspend the programmes in question. This is not to say that I have not been aware of the abuse of our public airwaves by those who should be in the better know as well as those who are expected to observe utmost circumspection in exercising this right. In fact, in this very column last year I took issue with three programmes on the Otjiherero Language Programmes, which hosted eminent people. However, they far from reflected their eminency.

“Instead of focussing genuinely and in an enlightened way on these matters, the programmes seemed little more than just avenues for the flushing out the verbiage overflow of the different adversaries to the debacle on the recognition and non-recognition of the Ovaherero traditional leaders and its attendant disunity/unity among this ethnic group,” I opined in this column regarding the programmes in question.

Well it seems, telling by the concerns of the NBC Otjiherero Language Service manager and his producers that the problem remains, if not with all the language services and the entire nation.

“Not so much because of the intentions or ill-intentions of the presenters but the panelists seeing in these programmes a loophole for the continuation of their out-of-control internecine intra-tribal and political wars,” I opined then a view that I still dearly hold. Somehow there is a mistaken view that when the NBC facilitates freedom of expression by availing airwaves to whoever, such has the freedom to indulge in voicing anything imaginable that comes to mind. The NBC cannot, should not and has no right to dictate and prescribe what views one can, should hold and can and should express through its airwaves.

However, NBC producers have a point beyond which they cannot allow the use of airwaves. In terms of its own mission the NBC is there to inform, educate and entertain. NBC is here to facilitate and encourage public debate on issues of community and/or national interest. Such debates may entail caustic and vitriolic exchanges some of which may be directed against public officials. Nothing wrong as long as such debates are within the normal realm of civilised altercations.

Public officials must know that by virtue of their public being they are regular targets of what may seem on the surface mere public frustrations.

The flip side of such seeming public frustrations is the immediate means of communication communities or the public may have vis-??????’??


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