A storm is brewing at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) over allegations that a decision has been taken by top management to dim the publicity around Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma, so that his activities do not outshine the coverage of government programmes.
Sources alleged this week that NBC Oshiwambo Radio reporters were told not to cover Nujoma working on the Northern Railway Line Extension Project last week.
Sources further claimed that it took the intervention of a senior official in Nujoma’s office for the decision to be rescinded.
The 28km portion of the project, which also includes the construction of a bridge over the main road between Ondangwa and Oshakati, will cost government at least N$300 million, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
Nujoma has been the main driving force behind the project, which started during his presidency in the copper town of Tsumeb in 2002.
The entire railway project is projected to cost N$1, 3 billion.
Nujoma has periodically dedicated his personal time to work on the railway line, joined by groups of local volunteers.
An Oshiwambo Radio reporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Windhoek Observer that Nujoma’s involvement with the railway project last week was covered, but they were told not to cover certain political and SWAPO gala dinners anymore.
“We did cover the Founding Father’s railway mission, on the first and the last day, although there were problems with transport. I hear people are told there will be no more coverage of certain political events and gala dinners.
“I do not know what transpired, but call Miss Helena Shiimbi, she will know better,” the reporter said.
Oshana Regional Head of the NBC Oshiwambo Radio Service Helena Shiimbi denied that she had received any instructions not to cover certain events.
“I have not received such type of instructions, and I am speaking as the manager of NBC Oshiwambo here up North.
“Maybe it’s just not communicated to us here, but we did cover the first and the last day of Nujoma’s activity,” she said.
Local media reported this week that to date over 100 homesteads have been moved to make way for the railway line.
An amount of N$7 million was spent to compensate villagers, whose homesteads were affected.
NBC was also present at an event last Sunday when Nujoma opened the SWAPO Party District Office in the Elim Constituency at Omutundawambala, but it only aired the footage this week.
NBC Head of Corporate Affairs Umbi Karuaihe-Upi said the allegations are not true.
“I heard about this from my colleague, but it is not true. We do cover his events... These are just people who want to create problems. The Founding Father is important to us, and we can even show you the footage of what we covered,” Karuaihe-Upi said.
In his speech at Elim, Nujoma said the SWAPO Party government has implemented milestone development projects in all 14 regions, and is the only party with a proven track record.
“The SWAPO Party recently inaugurated its first-ever party school, as another milestone in the long and glorious history of the party.
“The SWAPO-led government has abolished the payment of school development fees, as means of extending free universal primary education, and the same arrangement was implemented at secondary education level during this academic year.
“Furthermore, the SWAPO Party government has remained determined to spare no efforts and to allocate resources to ensure that our people have access to basic amenities,” Nujoma added.