By Megameno Shikwambi
The Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) is mute on the pronouncement by the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) that its workers face the possibility of losing their jobs.
NAPWU’s Secretary General, Peter Nevonga could not comment on the letter issued to his office by the NBC Board of directors this week, saying they were still studying it.
The union represents workers at the beleaguered NBC who protested a few weeks ago against cost cutting measures and raised allegations of mismanagement.
“The notion and aspect of people/staff losing jobs is a reality especially under the current circumstances. As we all know, the current challenging economic situation in our country has put a lot of entities in serious trouble. The NBC is not immune to this.
If it is that the NBC will go that route, this is process which is law (labour) driven and cannot happen arbitrarily and thus needs and demands that proper consultations be held with all stakeholders within its normal occurrence.
Even in the event that we are lucky to receive the appropriate funding for the NBC, what we must be aware of is that the Shareholder might dictate how the entity should be managed/Structured moving forward by virtue of their ownership over the NBC,” said the directors in a joint statement.
Workers have previously called out the directors to do away with issuing short-term contracts to guarantee their job-security.
However, the entity has said that with regard to the status of contract employees and freelancers, conversion of contract employees to permanent status was on general hold.
NBC said this is in light of the crippling economic situation.
The broadcaster said it was unfortunately so, and that this position was informed by the requisite funding.
“It should be noted that the staff reduction may not necessarily target contract workers and/or freelancers alone, but all job levels could be subjected to the same should the option become a reality,” the directors have said.
Meanwhile, NBC has also been rocked by allegations of favoritism, discrimination, nepotism and regionalism, with such accusations coming from the workers themselves.
But NBC has denied this.
“The NBC subscribes to fair and equitable recruitment processes. The same can be said about promotions.
Our recruitment processes have the involvement of NAPWU as an observer to make sure that that laid down processes and procedures are followed,” said NBC.
NBC has also said that its executive payroll was outsourced about eight years back due to transgressions around confidentiality saying that having the executive payroll managed in this manner was a common occurrence.
“It should be noted that no malfeasance has ever since been reported through all audits of the NBC,” said the broadcaster.
A few weeks ago, workers at NBC staged a peaceful demonstration at the public broadcaster’s premises where they denounced a decision taken by the board to cut down programmes among a raft of cost-saving measures.
They said such cost-cutting measures were hamstringing operation while managers went on expensive trips.
The loss making state controlled public broadcaster, NBC has hit hard times and its leadership announced a raft of drastic cost cutting measures in order to save the entity from crushing down.
Speaking to members of the media at NBC HQ, the management indicated that government subsidies to the entity were drying up.
Over the past six financial years, government subsidy or operating expenditure reduced by 10% from N$237 million received in 2014/15 to N$140 million allocated in the 2019/20 financial year.
NBC’s capital expenditure over the past six years also reduced by a drastic 100% from N$70 million allocated in the 2014/15 financial year to zero allocation in the current financial year.
“This situation has resulted in the organization operating with equipment which has reached its end of life. It is currently not possible to replace or improve quality especially on the radio and television side of operations due to a lack of capital funding,” the management said in a statement.
NBC is also sinking in a debt of N$150 million which has been accumulating at an average of N$15 million per month due to insufficient funding by government.
This does not include the historical debt that comes all the way from 15 years ago.