The cash-strapped Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) is on the brink of collapse, members of the parliamentary standing committee on information, communication, technology and innovation heard yesterday.
The strike-hammered national broadcaster was given N$127.7 million during this financial year’s budget, which represents a 62% reduction, compared to the previous financial year’s allocation of N$334.1 million.
NBC director general Stanley Similo said while briefing MPs on the financial standing of the corporation that the company last week only managed to pay net salaries of employees, leaving out other benefit such as housing, pensions, pay as you earn and medical aid.
He said to pay all the other contributions, the company will need at least N$11 million per month.
“Last Friday, we struggled to pay salaries. The amount that we received from Cabinet last week was about N$6.1 million that we need to expand to everything that we do.
We on average make about N$5 million per month, and our expenses are about N$32 million per month,” Similo said while responding to questions posed by MP Josef Kauandenge.
Similo warned the committee members that if nothing is done or if no funds are found, the consequences will be dire in terms of keeping the company running. The company could thus collapse, he added.
“As it stands, we don’t even know where we will get this money. We don’t know where government talks are, and this is not a joke. This is serious. We are not making up things,” he continued.
The ICT committee is chaired by Modestus Amutse, and includes Bertha Dinyando, Nono Katjingisiua, Dudu Murorua, Kletus Karondo, Maria Elago, Mathias Mbundu, Longines Iipumbu, Leevi Katoma, Sebastian Karupu, Kauandenge, Ignatius Shixwameni and Annakletha Sikerete.
Meanwhile, around 500 workers at the corporation on Thursday embarked on a nationwide strike. The strike today enters its sixth day. NBC has since been hit by a blackout.
Similo yesterday said the management’s hands were tied as the company does not have the funds demanded by the workers.
NBC workers are demanding an 8% salary increment, but the DG yesterday insisted that the corporation is facing serious financial challenges this year due to the reduced budget allocation.
Similo explained that during the wage negotiations, management, through a board directive, “offered a once-off payment” for all staff, ranging between N$10 000 to N$20 000, depending on how the distribution would have been made once agreed.
However, he said, this position was forced to change when treasury announced that the new budget allocation for NBC would amount to N$127.5 million for the year.
Meanwhile, striking NBC workers were yesterday accusing the corporation of refusing them access to the corporation’s toilets, despite both parties having agreed in the striking rules to do so.
The two parties also agreed that no scab labour may be engaged to replace the lawfully striking employees during the industrial action.
The agreement further stated that neither the applicant nor any of its members shall intimidate, harass, interfere or do anything unlawful against non-striking employees who may wish to continue rendering their services to the respondent in their own right.
The parties also agreed that the principle of “no work-no-pay” shall apply for the duration of the industrial strike action to employees participating.