Disgruntled workers at the country’s national public broadcaster, NBC, have written an open letter to the government urging the leadership to help save the corporation from alleged maladministration, nepotism and corruption.
“We are unsatisfied with the state of affairs at the NBC in which deteriorations are the order of the day. We are disgusted with the bullying, arrogant and dismissive leadership style of Stanley Similo who has forgotten he and his leadership are accountable to the workers, the government, and most importantly, the public,” the corporation employees, calling themselves “Concerned Workers” said in a letter dated 28 January this year.
The workers further raised serious concerns about the corporation’s executives whom they accused of dancing to the tunes of Similo without questioning his decisions for fear of being fired or their contracts not being renewed.
“Worse, some of these chiefs have traded their oaths to public service by complying with outright corruption,” the employees claimed.
Furthermore, the workers raised serious concerns over the N$5. 4 million performance bonuses paid to senior managers, saying the incentive doesn’t make sense.
They particularly took issue with the alleged N$500 000 bonus paid to Similo, further questioning why he was rewarded shortly after he was confirmed as director general for another five years.
“The same question can be asked for most of the chiefs whose contracts were also just renewed last year. How did the new board, which was only two months in the office, manage to justify this suspicious transaction,” the workers questioned.
“Mr Lazarus Jacobs [NBC board chair] and the rest of the board must explain how they awarded bonuses worth N$5.4 million on performances of 16 managers and executives yet hasn’t bothered to pay increment to the general workers for three years and counting,” the workers demanded.
“How do you award performance bonuses but there is no performance appraisal within the NBC, so on what grounds were these monies paid to these individuals?”
Clarifying the bonuses, Similo late last year said it was the first time in five years that staff members who fall under the total cost to company (TCTC) category have received bonuses, which he claimed formed part of their contractual obligations.
“The N$5.4 million, paid to those on TCTC, is exaggerated if seen in isolation but should be seen against the total of N$47.6 million paid to those in the conventional category, which is conveniently left out by those spreading misinformation,” the corporation quoted Similo as saying.
In addition, Similo said, the incentive-based remuneration is not only applicable to management but open to all staff who have subscribed to it, and that this structure has inherent risks away from what the conventional pay structure holds.
Meanwhile, NBC workers have been demanding an 8% salary increase and last month staged a lunch-time demonstration to air their grievances.
However, Similo has described the demands as unrealistic given the disruption caused by the virulent Covid-19, including loss of income for many Namibians.