25 March 2013

Namibia: Popular PM Radio Programme Reintroduced

The re-introduction of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) feedback programme, Prime Minister's Question Time, has been hailed as a major breakthrough by government in its bid to be responsive and accountable.

The programme hit the national broadcaster's airwaves and was televised for the first time on Thursday during the 23rd anniversary celebrations of Namibia's independence after it was abruptly suspended over a decade ago. The programme was widely watched when it was first aired, but was later thought to provide unfair political leverage to the first Prime Minister, who had created the platform to respond to burning issues of national interest.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba has reportedly insisted on the return of the popular radio programme. Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob stressed the need to fight corruption tooth and nail, as well as the importance of inclusiveness and national development. Observers have described the platform as essential to the government's efforts to articulate its programmes and policies and to communicate directly with all citizens.

Oshikoto Regional Governor Penda Ya Ndakolo said the programme is necessary for government to interact with citizens since communication is vital in the nation-building process. He said government representatives who serve in sub-national structures are not always vested with all information relating to the operations and activities that are carried out by government ministries and state-owned enterprises, hence the importance of such a platform.

"The purpose it serves is outstanding. The Oshikoto Region and its people certainly welcome it and praise its initiators and the NBC for transmitting it." The governor urged the youth in particular to monitor the programme closely and to absorb its content.

He further appealed to the NBC to ensure that the programme is re-broadcast in all the vernaculars because of its national significance. "Clarifications and input are sought from government through the PM from all corners of the country, hence the need for all citizens retrospectively to understand each other's challenges by having full comprehension of the details thereof," said the Oshikoto governor.

Meanwhile, the Director of Oriental City, Harold //Guiob told New Era that Prime Minister's Question Time could not have come at a more appropriate time as the ruling party prepares for transition and therefore needs to associate itself closely with the people.

He said it was generally perceived that the current prime minister will take over the country's presidency from President Pohamba and that it was crucial for the ruling party to set a clear strategy on how to translate the transmission of the "next political life" of the party and its government to the electorate.

"I am convinced that the programme will not only serve as a powerful tool to enhance state and grassroots collaboration, but also that it will be effective enough to conscientise citizens on important projects and activities of the state." //Guiob said all accounting officers such as mayors, CEOs, governors and regional representatives of SOEs should be encouraged to communicate more with their respective communities about developments in their areas of jurisdiction.

"We can certainly not expect the PM to respond to each and every question, especially having relevance to lower structures of government. He can surely do that but it will be unfair towards him while having the people to do that in the regions," he noted.

//Guiob, a scholar of Namibia-China research studies further appealed to the management of the NBC to screen documentaries depicting the struggle for independence at regular intervals. He described the inserts shown on NBC television and broadcast over the radio during the 23rd independence anniversary celebrations as outstanding and educative.

"I could see during the interview of the Founding President with the western media during the 70's, that Namibia's independence was formulated around the promises made by a determined leader of the revolution in the person of Dr Sam Nujoma, chief of PLAN, that our country will be liberated and free for ever. It was so emotional to retrace the assurance given at the time and the freedom we enjoy today. Our youth must see this reality series on a regular basis to appreciate where we come from, where we are and where we are going," stressed //Guiob.

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