Namibia is facing an embarrassment in front of the international community for organising the World Press Freedom Day and 30th Windhoek Declaration celebrations which will attract hundreds of media workers from across the world (with thousands more following the activities online), while the country’s own national broadcaster is on strike.

But the Namibia Media Professionals Union (Nampu) has condemned both the board and management of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) for their failure to take the welfare of the broadcaster’s workers seriously,

and the union has called on the striking NBC workers to continue with their industrial action until their demands are met.

Without making any reference to the impact the NBC’s shutdown will have on the World Press Freedom Day week, Nampu secretary general Mr Sakeus Iikela said in a statement that the union “notes that the unresolved labour standoff continues to negatively affect the flow of crucial information to the public.

“This is a wake-up call to the NBC and various owners and stakeholders in the media – including those who claim to be champions of press freedom but never talk about the welfare of journalists and media workers – to recognise and take cries about poor working conditions and underpayment of journalists seriously or face the music.

“For far too long, the arrogant and greedy management of the NBC has ignored the genuine demands of its workers who have been pleading for better working conditions and the settling of outstanding salary increments, the abolition of the contract labour system, and improved benefits among other things.”

Iikela said that Nampu is concerned that the NBC continues to keep a large number of its employees on one-month contracts.

“The NBC management often hides behind claims of a lack of funds to resolve these issues, but continues to shower itself with millions of Namibia dollars in irregular bonuses.

“It should be noted that more than N$5 million was paid as bonuses to fewer than eight NBC managers in 2020 while workers got nothing. NAMPU has also learned that the NBC has decided to reward its director general, Stanley Similo, with a vehicle worth about N$2 million while ignoring the workers’ demands.”

According to Iikela it is in that spirit that Nampu is calling on all journalists and media professionals to stand in solidarity with the striking workers at the NBC.