2 February 2016

Namibia: Newspaper Vendors Strike in Windhoek

MORE than 30 newspaper vendors disrupted the sale of yesterday's newspapers in Windhoek demanding that their commission from the Afrikaans daily newspaper be increased by 20 cent per copy.

There are about 160 newspaper vendors working in Windhoek's streets.

The group that was moving around the city in a Toyota Land Cruiser with no number plates, fought other vendors who were working.

They tore up newspapers, while some vendors who had chosen to work were robbed of money and cellphones.

The demands came after the Namibia Media Holdings increased the Republikein's cover price from N$4 to N$5 with effect from yesterday.

By yesterday afternoon, The Namibian was stuck with 14 500 copies which are sold on the streets of Windhoek per day, while NMH said they lost 8% in copy sales.

Stimulus Investments, a company that belongs to First Lady Monica Geingos, owns 50% of NMH. Efforts by The Namibian to use some of the staff to sell the paper resulted in running battles with the vendors.

One of the vendors involved in the running battles was Mathias Shiweda who said if they decide not to sell newspapers, they do not want anyone else to sell on the streets.

"We must stand in solidarity for our voices to be heard," Shiweda, who sells newspapers in Eros, said.

NMH chief executive officer Albe Botha said street vendors are not their employees and they can decide to sell newspapers or not.

"We have no control over their actions," he said, adding that NMH has increased vendors' commission twice without increasing the cover price of their paper.

Each time, he said, NMH bore the costs.

"The increase this time was to compensate for increased paper prices and giving our retailers a price increase as they have not had one for more than 10 years," he said.

He also said NMH has increased outlet sales.

The Namibian's general manager Sieggie Veii-Mujoro yesterday said the strike had nothing to do with them since it was triggered by the Republikein's cover price increase.

Mujoro said it is The Namibian's strategic decision not to increase the cover price from N$3 in order to reach out to many readers.

"The vendors want an increase of 20 cents on their commission thus they decided not sell any paper. We currently pay 80c per copy sold," he said, adding that it was too early to determine the actual loss the company had suffered.

Mujoro also said The Namibian tried to rescue the situation by increasing the numbers of papers to outlets.

"Our readers can get the paper from various outlets. We are sorry about this situation. We are trying our best to solve the problem. We hope the strike will not last long," Mujoro said.


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