A government decision to control call-in programmes on national radio
hits at the heart of democracy, is draconian and smacks of the tactics
used by the former apartheid regime, writes Christof Maletsky in the Namibian.

This was spelled out in no uncertain terms yesterday by organisations involved in protecting rights.

Some have gone as far as describing the move as flying in the face of the Namibian Constitution.

One of the main call-in programmes, the Chat Show, fell silent on Monday, a few days after Government and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) announced that they would give callers specific issues to discuss on a daily basis.

It is seen as as aimed at curbing critical debate on national issues.

Activists were quick to point out that Government is trying to "stage manage" what Namibians can and cannot discuss.

Information Minister Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah said the decision was aimed at stopping abuse by callers.

Central to the move were claims that some regular callers allegedly displayed a lack of respect for former President Sam Nujoma.

It is also seen as an attempt to suppress discussion in the run-up to the Swapo Party congress later this year.

Nandi-Ndaitwah announced on Wednesday that the NBC's top management had decided to change the format of the phone-in programmes ostensibly to stop abuse by callers.

On Monday, music was played in the regular 09h00 to 10h00 slot for the National Radio Service's 'Chat Show', irking listeners who called other NBC radio services to complain.

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