NBC is now the talk of the nation

NBC is now the talk of the nation

IS political interference keeping the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) from airing controversial views or views unfavourable to the powers that be? According to sources within the State-funded broadcaster, recent episodes of the popular panel discussion ‘Talk of the Nation’ show evidence of just that.

The latest episode of the show, which aired on Monday night, dealt with the Namibian diamond industry but had no input from the Ministry of Mines on the selected panel. This was despite an effort by the producers to involve the Ministry, and the assigning of Diamonds Commissioner Kennedy Hamutenya by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Joseph Iita, to appear on the show.Ministry permanent secretaries are usually the ones to either appear themselves, or assign other people to appear, on shows such as ‘Talk of the Nation’.However, sources indicate that Iita’s decision to delegate Hamutenya was overridden by Mines Minister Erkki Nghimtina, who personally spoke to the NBC’s Director General Bob Kandetu to have the decision vetoed.Hamutenya was eventually replaced on the panel by Nghimtina’s choice of Works, Transport and Communication Permanent Secretary Shihaleni Ndjaba.A previous episode of the same show, which dealt with Government’s resettlement programme, caused public outrage.That episode also did not have any input from the concerned ministry, namely the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, while a second show on the same topic was cancelled.In that case, sources indicate that the Ministry had confirmed its attendance, but pulled out at the last minute.Commenting on his Ministry’s absence from the show this past Monday, Mines PS Iita only confirmed that he had assigned the Diamonds Commissioner, who, he says, “I thought was the most competent on the matter”.Iita said he could not take part in the show himself, as he had to attend to matters related to the visit of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.He declined to divulge further information as to why his Ministry was eventually not represented on the show.”I don’t like controversies.I just like to do my work,” he said when asked who was responsible for removing Hamutenya from the panel.NBC DG Bob Kandetu denied any political interference at the broadcaster, adding that employees who feel there are problems at the broadcaster should speak to him about it.He said he had spoken to Minister Nghimtina about delegating someone for Monday’s show, and the Minister gave him the names of two people.These were Daniel Kali, Namibian Managing Director for the De Beers Group, and Works PS Ndjaba.”The show was about the partnership between De Beers and Government, so he thought that it would be best to get those two as they were the ones involved in the negotiations,” Kandetu said.He said he later found out that the producers of the show were expecting the Diamonds Commissioner.”I told him our news people had decided on Kennedy [Hamutenya], and he said he didn’t have any problem with that.However, due to logistical reasons, we already had a full panel, we couldn’t add him,” Kandetu said.”But there was no interference.Maybe just an issue of miscommunication in the Ministry,” he insisted.This was despite an effort by the producers to involve the Ministry, and the assigning of Diamonds Commissioner Kennedy Hamutenya by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Joseph Iita, to appear on the show.Ministry permanent secretaries are usually the ones to either appear themselves, or assign other people to appear, on shows such as ‘Talk of the Nation’.However, sources indicate that Iita’s decision to delegate Hamutenya was overridden by Mines Minister Erkki Nghimtina, who personally spoke to the NBC’s Director General Bob Kandetu to have the decision vetoed.Hamutenya was eventually replaced on the panel by Nghimtina’s choice of Works, Transport and Communication Permanent Secretary Shihaleni Ndjaba.A previous episode of the same show, which dealt with Government’s resettlement programme, caused public outrage.That episode also did not have any input from the concerned ministry, namely the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, while a second show on the same topic was cancelled.In that case, sources indicate that the Ministry had confirmed its attendance, but pulled out at the last minute.Commenting on his Ministry’s absence from the show this past Monday, Mines PS Iita only confirmed that he had assigned the Diamonds Commissioner, who, he says, “I thought was the most competent on the matter”.Iita said he could not take part in the show himself, as he had to attend to matters related to the visit of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.He declined to divulge further information as to why his Ministry was eventually not represented on the show.”I don’t like controversies.I just like to do my work,” he said when asked who was responsible for removing Hamutenya from the panel.NBC DG Bob Kandetu denied any political interference at the broadcaster, adding that employees who feel there are problems at the broadcaster should speak to him about it.He said he had spoken to Minister Nghimtina about delegating someone for Monday’s show, and the Minister gave him the names of two people.These were Daniel Kali, Namibian Managing Director for the De Beers Group, and Works PS Ndjaba.”The show was about the partnership between De Beers and Government, so he thought that it would be best to get those two as they were the ones involved in the negotiations,” Kandetu said.He said he later found out that the producers of the show were expecting the Diamonds Commissioner.”I told him our news people had decided on Kennedy [Hamutenya], and he said he didn’t have any problem with that.However, due to logistical reasons, we already had a full panel, we couldn’t add him,” Kandetu said.”But there was no interference.Maybe just an issue of miscommunication in the Ministry,” he insisted.

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