Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Namibia: Live presidential debates in balance

 There is uncertainty about the possibility of live broadcasts of debates between the presidential candidates in this month’s election.

NBC Director-General Albertus Aochamub has said several times that the public broadcaster would welcome suggestions from political parties to hold such

However, yesterday, Aochamub said he had not received any official requests for televised debates.

“At this stage we have not received anything, but we are meeting with the political parties next week at the election forum and we will see whether to host live debates or not,” he said.
Aochamub wouldn’t say whether there is enough time left to hold these debates, with the elections only three weeks away.

Swanu president Usutuaije Maamberua dismissed Aochamub’s statement that no party had made a request.

“We had a press conference were the NBC reporters captured this request and the letter is on their camera.

The NBC News even aired that request by Swanu for the live debates,” Maamberua said.

“Daoud Vries (Editor) and Menesia Muinjo (Chief News and Programming Officer) are all aware of the letter in which we requested the live debates,” he said. Muinjo referred all queries to Aochamub.

Maamberua added that the time is right for the NBC to introduce live debates before Namibians go to the polls on November 28.
According to Maamberua, the ‘capitalist’ presidential candidates fear squaring off with him as the leader of a socialist party.

He added that the absence of these debates would result in the electorate being disadvantaged as they would not be fully informed on the agenda and character of presidential candidates.
DTA leader McHenry Venaani said if the debates are to be introduced now it would be a single round and not two rounds, as is usually done with such debates.

“We are ready for any debates any time but we have seen at the two debates organised by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Swapo only sent Audrin Mathe and that is an indication that they are not ready for such debates.”

However, Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba said his party would not be told by a foreign foundation what to do.

“If it was one of the local media asking us to come for an interview or debate then it would have been something else. A foundation or NGO cannot tell us what to do and where to come,” Mbumba said.

He added that Swapo is ready to be involved in any debate and has enough people to do so, but he maintained that Swapo cannot dictate to the NBC what programmes to broadcast.
The spokesperson of the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), Olsen Kahiriri, said the NBC deliberately delayed the debates in order to give Swapo an advantage.

“NBC knew since last week the number of political parties and presidential candidates officially registered for these elections. Why did they have to wait for another week to talk about these debates?” Kahiriri questioned.

“The time now will not be enough for holding extensive and comprehensive presidential debates, when you consider the time a party would need to prepare its candidate.”
Nudo secretary-general Meundju Jahanika said NBC still has a chance of rectifying the situation by hosting at least one debate before the November 28 elections.

“They never consulted any political party when they introduced the One-On-One and other shows, why do they need us now for these debates?” Jahanika asked.

Aochamub hit back, this time saying the NBC would exercise its editorial prerogative on whether to consult the parties or not.

“We did not consult them when we introduced our other programmes and we’re also under no obligation to consult them on whether we will introduce live debates or not,” Aochamub said.

The Namibian Sun

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