Ever since the era of coups in Africa, the propagators’ first stop has always been the radio station or the national television broadcasting centre.
This is why elsewhere in Africa state radio stations and television broadcasting centres are high security zone areas protected 24/7 by members of the defence forces.
Although Namibia is known to be a peaceful country where the worst, like what happened in Mali and other countries recently can never happen, killing the sole State broadcaster – the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) - is tantamount to committing a treasonous act even when the nation is made to believe that there is no money.
That is how vulnerable this country has become.
It’s very hard, in any case, to believe that the State has no money to keep NBC on air.
It is also foolhardy for anybody to demand that NBC should make profit because it is a State entity funded by tax-payers.
Governments in Britain, South Africa, China, Zambia and many other countries where the State is a major shareholder in a broadcaster, profits are not expected.
If anybody wants NBC to make profit, then they should simply privatise it and let professionals run the entity.
Demanding profits from NBC when some ministers and party groupings plant their incapable people at the broadcaster is a dumb act.
This simply makes NBC one of the burdens the State should bear in silence, like a cross, because this is how it is elsewhere.
The reason is simple; if you control information, you control the populace. This is why coup leaders rush to broadcast take-overs.
This is why NBC should be critical not only to the Government but the country as a whole. And this is why Government hangs onto NBC as the major shareholder - why NBC has not been let to function as an independent entity without interferrence from some ministers.
For this reason, NBC should get funding without any minister yawning and squealing about profits because State broadcasters are not meant to make profit.
NBC is as critical as education which got a supplementary budget as a matter of urgency about two years ago.
If the Minister of Education could motivate for a supplementary budget to build schools; if Air Namibia and TransNamib - known loss makers - can get bailouts; why is it difficult for the Minister of Information and Technology, Joel Kaapanda, to do the same to save NBC?
In any case, Kaapanda would not be saving NBC alone but the workers whose salaries cannot carry them throughout the month.
But Kaapanda cannot do this because just like many other ministers who ranted and raved against perceived biased NBC’s coverage, it appears as if it does not matter to him whether the broadcaster lives or dies.
We know Kaapanda was supposed to submit a request to cabinet on August 8, 2012 to address the issue of salary adjustments for NBC staff, but he did not sign off the request.
By the 9th of August, just like NBC board and management, we knew there would be a blackout at NBC.
Still Kaapanda did nothing to show that he was treating the NBC issue with urgency.
It is because of such I-don’t-care attitude that has led NBC where it is today – in the throes of a slow death whose journey of attrition has been long and arduous.
But that the broadcaster had not gone under until now is largely because former director generals and boards were weak-kneed people who easily buckled to pressure.
To a great extent, politicians smile and become generous when they emerge victorious. This is not the case this time around and that is why NBC is silent today.
A facebook comment by SPYL Secretary Elijah Ngurare an hour before the NBC plug was pulled shows how this national issue is politicised.
Wrote Ngurare, “One hour to go before NBC workers go on strike over salary increments, hopefully the presidential candidates that it has been religiously promoting will bail it before sunrise. lol”.
It’s because the politicians who play good Samaritans with tax-payers money are not happy and do not see the reason why they should be generous.
In simple terms this slow strangulation of NBC has been going on for some time now.
It’s also unheard of that a public national TV can go off air like what happened with NBC.
This brings into question the credentials of the people in management. Were they not supposed to hold fort while the juniors are on strike? Run adverts, play jingles and monitor feeds? If the President or even Kaapanda himself wants to announce the situation at NBC, how will he do it?
Of course, they could not because most of them are just people planted in high positions without what it takes to be where they are.
Secondly, it is this planting of people who have no idea of what broadcasting is about at NBC that has been wearing and tearing down the corporation.
It has also caused so much instability when DGs tried to make things work by removing people aligned to some ministers.
There is no doubt that whoever sat back while NBC went silent committed a treason act.
NBC lost N$4m a day because of the strike.
Meanwhile Kaapanda made an ill-advised move over the weekend when he appeared on private run television station, One Africa seemingly endorsing the station as the official state media as he praised them for a job filling the gap and calling for them to get more businesses, something that will further sink his own, NBC.
Worse off, his speech on One Africa was in English and Oshiwambo, further questioning who he was addressing.