Namibia: NBC Cancels Talk Show


The Director General of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Bob Kandetu, on Monday cancelled the NBC talk show 'Talk of Nation', which was set to discuss the controversial Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), after two key panelists withdrew. The cancellation seems to have sparked a one-sided “storm in a teacup” diplomatic row in which the Namibian Government appears to have got into an argument with itself.

The two panelists, Penny Akwenye, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MCA and John Wingle, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Resident Country Director, withdrew and only two panelists, namely the Namibia Wildlife Resorts Managing Director, Tobie Aupindi and Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Kazenambo Kazenambo, remained on the panel.

It is said that Kazenambo was going to be part of the panel not in his capacity as a deputy minister but an honorary member of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL). Kandetu said he decided to cancel the programme because "two material panelists" withdrew and given the sensitive nature of the matter, he felt justice would not be done. "The two panelists that withdrew were critical and we could not find suitable replacements."

Prime Minister Nahas Angula concurred with the decision by Kandetu, saying the MCA is an agreement between Namibia and the United States, which should not be negotiated in public. He noted that the fact that the agreement is now being debated in public does not augur well for diplomatic relations between the two countries because it now appears as if Namibia is negotiating in bad faith.

Angula also expressed disappointment with the manner in which Government media has covered the topic and said the Government media has been judgmental and not (as) objective as the private media.

"The Government media is being mischievous and I do not know who they are trying to embarrass.

"What makes the situation worse is that the Government media is the one reporting on the agreement and the US government could think that the public debate is being orchestrated by the Government." The Premier said it is unfair for Namibia to bash its partner in public."We are expected as a country to go to the table and negotiate the agreement if we do not agree, and not in public."

The controversy around the MCA was kick-started by the SPYL but it is now turning to be a serious bone of contention as the Government is at pains to explain the agreement. The issue is set for debate in the National Assembly next week.

New Era (Windhoek) 15 October 2008