Being part of the government information service, Asteria Ndjendja is at the forefront of the dissemination of public information to the media and the general public.
Ndjendja is an information officer at the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in Windhoek.
Her job is centred on disseminating government information internally and externally.
She is also tasked with promoting the positive public image in the media, planning and hosting media conferences to announce major government decisions or addressing issues.
Nonetheless, she did not start out as a public servant.
“I joined the public service in February 2017 from NBC, where I worked as a radio current affairs senior producer, news anchor and presenter of TV programmes,” Ndjendja said.
Explaining the reason for joining the public service, she said the government “offers a wide variety of genuinely challenging and fascinating opportunities to make a difference in other people’s lives. It gives me the joy to know and feel like the work I’m doing means something and is impactful to the people”.
“I chose to work in the public sector because I want to make my world, and live my life by disseminating information and engaging the people; it is satisfying to know that the work I’m doing is for the benefit of humanity,” she added.
Ndjendja is a skilful communicator and public speaker.
These skills came in handy following the outbreak of Covid-19 in Namibia.
She has been moderating public discussions pertaining to the pandemic at the Covid-19 Communication Centre.
“I really wanted to be there from the beginning of it all but when the pandemic hit Namibia, I was in India. Nonetheless, being part of the government information centre and entrusted with the responsibility of sharing and disseminating factual information on such a big platform about the pandemic and other government information and projects is a huge responsibility,” Ndjendja said about being at the forefront of the government Covid-19 information campaign.
“I’m entrusted with doing research and identifying topics of discussion based on current affairs or issues at hand.
Additionally, I engage the public to hear what they would like the campaign to focus on or identify the gaps.
“The fact that the public is accorded a chance to ask the government questions and get answers instantly really helped in debunking myths and miscommunication and misinformation about the pandemic. This has created trust in our government, as we shared information as many times as possible.”
The University of Namibia alumni was born in Zambia and raised in northern Namibia.
After completing matric at Ruacana High School, Ndjendja went on to obtain a diploma in information studies, and a degree in media studies and industrial psychology from the national university.
After university, she worked as a media officer at a communications company.
She then switched to radio as a news anchor and translator, before becoming a senior producer at the NBC.
“I believe in doing a great job at whatever level I find myself in an organisation,” she said about her work ethic.
Though still at the onset of her public service career, Ndjendja has already build a lifetime of memorable moments.
“I have so many of them but the most memorable accomplishments and moments are when I was part of the SADC Military Exercise Blue Kunene in 2017, just a few months after I joined the public service. It was quite a great experience and test for my professional career as an information officer and public servant. Another is being part of the Nationhood and Nationals Pride Campaign – going to schools and running competitions and random campaigns on several public matters. Finally, being one of the lead moderators at the Government Information Centre means so much to me,” she said.
There are several challenges that come with the responsibilities of a public information officer.
She noted that “The fact that, as an information officer, I do not really take total leave from work because information-sharing is a constant function that can be done from everywhere we find ourselves”.
“Also, lack of performance appraisal in the public sector can be discouraging but loving what I do overshadows all the challenges.”
Despite these challenges, Ndjendja takes pride in her work.
“I mostly take it as part of my life and not necessarily a job because I’m living it,” she said, adding that the autonomy to her work is one of the rewarding aspects of her job.
“My supervisor gives me the freedom to think and be innovative, do my job and present my ideas independently. Having a voice that speaks and represents my government at my level is beyond satisfaction.
“I’m glad to have joined one of the hard-working divisions in the MICT, which is equipped with people who have the same work ethics and energy. I love it because the majority share the same vision and are dedicated to the mission of the ministry,” she added.
Ndjendja is planning to serve the public service for as long as “I can, given the fact that there is room and opportunity to grow professionally and occupy a senior decision-making position at some point”.
She plans to study further and acquire a master’s degree in communications or public relations.