Cash-strapped public broadcaster, nbc, recently spent at least N$165,000 on booze and food at a year-end staff function held at the Windhoek Country Club & Resort, a day after receiving an N$80 million bailout from the Government.
Investigations by the Windhoek Observer revealed that the Windhoek Country Club & Resort charged nbc N$25,000 for the venue, N$50,000 for drinks and beverages and N$90,000 for food for 250 people.
The nbc year-end staff party for Windhoek-based employees took place last Friday, and more parties are planned for the regions.
Director General, Stanley Similo, defended the decision to have the year-end staff function, accusing the Windhoek Observer of trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom.
“The nbc is very disappointed that its decision to host the year-end function is being politicised by describing it as a ‘slap in the face” of the Finance Minister. This especially in view of the fact that the nbc has repeatedly expressed its appreciation to its main stakeholder for recognising that the initial budget allocated to the national broadcaster would have resulted in a severe underfunding of the nbc with catastrophic effects on not only its capital projects, but also its daily operations,” Similo said.
He said the uncertainty surrounding nbc’s financial situation had affected all staff adversely, but they had continued to serve the nation day in-and-day out, without fail.
“Not to acknowledge this dedication by the nbc is tantamount to lack of appreciation from management and it would have been unconscionable and ungrateful. Our employees at the nbc come first,” he said.
Similo said it is during year-end functions that they come together, reflect and engage on business strategies, reviewing the highs and lows and reinforce breakthrough initiatives to transform the nbc from great to even greater.
He also said that the year-end function was not 100 percent subsidised by the company, as employees had also committed a “percentage” to share the cost for the company.
“Therefore, the notion that the year-end function was an extravagant affair is devoid of all truth, it is false, it is malicious and fake news.”
However, nbc employees who spoke to the Windhoek Observer on condition of anonymity said they were not asked to contribute any money towards the staff party.
The national broadcaster made headlines three months ago after it failed to remit medical aid deductions from staff members. Media reports at the time said the money deducted was used to keep the broadcaster afloat.
The public broadcaster was said still owe Namibia Medical Care (NMC) more than N$15 million. It has since moved to another medical aid provider, Prosperity Health Namibia, after it failed to meet a 7 July, 2017 payment deadline.
Public Enterprises minister, Leone Jooste, said he will issue a directive to all State-owned enterprises next week regarding staff parties.
“We are looking into the matter and I have proposed to issue a directive to all SOEs in this regard. I will take a final decision on that after discussing the merits at our Ministerial Management Meeting which takes place every Monday,”Jooste said.