As debate heats up ahead of this year’s elections, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation has pulled the plug on its popular ‘National Chat Show’ with immediate effect, writes Christof Maletsky in The Namibian.

Acting NBC Director General Andrew Kanime announced yesterday that only the evening ‘Open Line’ radio call-in programme on the National Service will continue – between 20h00 and 21h00 from Monday to Thursday, while the Oshiwambo Service call-in programme (‘Ewi Lya Manguluka’) has been moved to the same time slot.

Kanime said the NBC management will closely monitor the situation over the next three weeks to see whether the “abuse” continues or not.

“Should there be a reduction in the abuse of this platform, NBC management reserves the right to reconsider its decision to decrease the frequency and duration of the phone-in programmes on the National Radio and Oshiwambo Service,” he said.
However, he added, the management also reserved the right to abolish all phone-in programmes on all radio stations if no positive change is observed.

That means even the call-in programmes on other language services such as Afrikaans, Herero and Damara/Nama could be pulled.

The evening time slot change means that Oshiwambo-speaking callers will have to choose which one of two radio chat services to listen to during that time slot.

The announcement came less than a month after former NBC head Bob Kandetu was booted and temporarily replaced with Kanime.

Kanime charged that callers are abusing the airwaves with increased incidents of alleged cultural insensitivity, political abuse, hate speech, xenophobia, tribalism, racism and personal attacks against political office bearers and public figures.

Last month the Swapo Party Elders’ Council claimed that callers to the chat shows who were critical of President Hifikepunye Pohamba and former President Sam Nujoma want to “create chaos and anarchy” in the country.

They instructed Information Minister Joel Kaapanda to take measures to stop “dangerous radio programmes” and chat shows “before the situation gets out of control”.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Namibian's website.