NAMIBIA Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) journalist Tuulikki Abraham is seeking to be elected to the Swapo Central Committee at next month’s ruling party congress.
Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Abraham said she is a freelancer at Kati FM.
“I am not employed by the NBC. I don’t have a contract with them. I am a freelance journalist,” she said.
However, NBC spokesperson Umbi Karuaihe-Upi said Abraham has a freelance contract with the NBC as a reporter.
According to Abraham, she is going to the Swapo congress on the ticket of the Swapo Party Elders’ Council, where she is also a central committee member.
Abraham said she resigned from the NBC in 2003 when she moved to Lüderitz with her family.
She said she also worked for New Era as a freelance journalist from 2014 to 2019.
“I was born in Swapo. I was groomed by Swapo,” she said.
Asked whether she would stop working for the NBC because she is a politician, Abraham said she would stop if she was asked to stop.
“I do stories when I get them. I am unemployed. I am just a housewife with a catering business,” she said.
Abraham posted on one of the Swapo campaign groups recently, urging delegates to the congress to vote for her.
“Comrades candidates and delegates to the seventh Swapo party congress, kindly vote for comrade Tuulikki Abraham, who is the current branch secretary SPEC (Swapo Party Elders’ Council), branch information secretary and mobilisation SPEC, SPEC central committee member, freelance journalist.
“I am ready to be a servant for my nation, to be the voice of the voiceless. Kindly vote for comrade Tuulikki in the Swapo party central committee,” she wrote.
Abraham is not the first NBC journalist to join Swapo and become a politician while practising journalism.
Swapo parliamentarian Modestus Amutse was elected as secretary of information for the Oshikuku district while he was still a journalist.
The late Kati FM executive director John ya Kanandjembo became a local authority councillor for the Ongwediva Town Council immediately after he retired from his job at the NBC.
Former Kati FM presenter Angula Pohamba, who is now a member of the Swapo Party Elders’ Council, was elected into a Swapo structure a few years after his retirement from the NBC.
Other journalists from state-owned media who became politicians are the former deputy minister of information and communications technology, Engel Nawatiseb, and the late deputy minister of youth and national service, Kazenambo Kazenambo.
The two worked for New Era and Nampa.
Karuaihe-Upi yesterday said the NBC is not aware of Abraham seeking election to the Swapo Party Central Committee.
“Without infringing on the individual’s right to participate in politics, NBC employees, including freelancers, are guided by its code of conduct regarding participation in politics.
“Hence, as in similar past cases, the NBC will be guided by the said code of conduct,” she said.
Contacted for comment, Media Professionals Union of Namibia (MPUN) spokesperson Jemima Beukes said the union is aware of some journalists being employed by political parties in various roles.
“As MPUN we find this arrangement very disturbing, because it blurs the lines of objectivity. The arrangement raises serious questions on a journalist’s ability to provide fair political coverage to all political actors,” she said.
“We would like to advise media practitioners who wish to pursue a career in politics to refrain from doing media work.”