Dr Audrin Mathe Chief News and Programming Officer: NBC

The famous quote “we should do what is necessary but not necessarily what is easy “is a living testimony in the life and character of Dr Audrin Mathe; the newly-appointed Chief News and Programming Officer of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC).

Mathe in his newly-appointed position oversees Television, Radio and News as well as Current Affairs services at the national broadcaster. Driven by two powerful and consuming forces that of a curiosity for success and being time conscious by making sure every minute counts; a total adherence to the saying “a stitch in time saves nine” concepts.

He rode on the wave of education and is currently seated on the crest, basking in the glory of his achievements while enjoying his life and loving every moment of it.

For Dr Mathe, joining NBC is more like coming back home since he started here and ended up being an executive producer before leaving for the proverbial greener pastures. Dr. Mathe has held various high profile jobs in the past including public relations officer at the University of Namibia; an executive assistant to the Sadc Parliamentary Forum’s secretary general; a speech writer and spokesman to the two former prime ministers of Namibia and a PR Executive of Roads Authority.
He is only 37year old and has raked in six educational degrees within 12 years including a degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Cape Town; a Master of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Arts with an Honours degree both from the University of the Free State as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Africa and lately, an MBA from the University of Namibia.

In addition, Dr Mathe holds several professional qualifications in media, politics, communication, leadership and management as well as public relations, among others.

Except for his diploma in Journalism that he attended full-time in Germany, he got all his qualifications through distance education. These include his doctorate, which he completed in record time and as if these are not enough, he has been paying for all his studies out of his pocket.

Growing up in the rural areas of Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi Region, having walked an average of six kilometres on foot to school every day, his then social status did not alter his horizon as he set his eyes on bigger things, which he finally achieved through the sacrifices he endured. He managed to shrug off poverty, ignorance and backwardness out of his life permanently.

He has been enticed to join the NBC, which is currently undergoing a transformation. He says he wants to be part of that process of driving the national broadcaster to higher levels. He believes that given his rich media background, he will be put his experience to good use this time around.

Most people often complain about lack of time for not achieving what they want to achieve but to this he says, “We all have time to do what we want to do, you just need to plan.”

For him, time is very important and maintains that one only needs to be disciplined in order to be successful.

To get his way, he has mastered the art of spending his evenings productively, saying that the latest he can be at work is 6pm. He does not believe in taking work home as this is a sign of poor time management.

Growing up Dr. Mathe initially wanted to train as a lawyer to fight the injustices of the Apartheid regime. However, while he was at Caprivi Senior Secondary School, he discovered his unique writing skills, which earned him accolades after being appointed the editor of the school’s newspaper. This, without doubt, was the genesis of his involvement with the media to date.

Dr Mathe’s new role is to manage the NBC’s core business of broadcasting news and current affairs programmes on both TV and Radio. He is literary responsible for taking care of the vast dietary requirements for news and current affairs for Television and Radio and this is quite a tall order to meet.

But for him, his appointment has an ideal challenge, “NBC is going through a very exciting moment of change and I am excited about the new executive committee,” he says.

“Staff morale is very low and our mandate is to motivate them and reduce job losses”, he adds.

His remark comes in the wake of the fact that NBC has had more than 10 general directors since 1990, including those who have served in acting capacities. The national broadcaster is beset by a myriad of challenges including a poor financial position.

His mandate is to interpret the broader vision of NBC, so that this can be translated into action in his department. This is important, according to him because he believes that everyone is a leader and should, therefore be empowered to take the initiative.

On leadership in general, Mathe is of the opinion that in most organisations, whether in politics or in the corporate world, people often forget too quickly why they ran for that office in the first place.

“People change colours and even overstay their welcome,” he lamented adding that, “In leadership, no one is dispensable.”

He, however, decried the lack of leadership succession planning, saying, “You cannot lead if there are no followers, someone should be ready to take over the reigns of powers if need arises.”

For Mathe, getting himself educated is the most important achievement so far as no one can take away the knowledge he has acquired.

“That I have done six degrees in 12 years show that I have read my share,” he emphasises.

Founding a family is another achievement he has made in life and proudly says, “I am happily married to a very beautiful woman and enjoy raising our children.”

Mathe is an avid reader and spends a substantial amount of money on books and he is currently reading 9 books, which includes Books of secrets by Deepak Chopr, Cyril Ramaphosa, Understanding power and What Happened: Inside the Bush White House by Scott McClellan to name but a few.

Besides his day to day duties Mathe serves as a member of the SWAPO Party Think Tank, a body of intellectuals which advises the ruling party on policy matters. His political activism began in the 1980s in the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) as well the Namibian National Students’ Organisation (NANSO) which led to him being detained by the then Apartheid occupational regime at a tender age.

Other than that he has other engagements which include several membership and directorship of various organisations, including being a Founding Member of the African Association of Communication Directors and Member of the Association for Rhetoric and Communication in Southern Africa, among others.

Dr. Mathe is also an alumnus of the International Visitor’s Leadership Programme which is the US State Department’s premier programme for “current or emerging leaders in government, politics, the media, education, the arts, business and other key fields”, which programme seeks to build mutual understanding between the US and other nations.

He is a part-time lecturer at the Polytechnic of Namibia’s Media Department where he teaches communication and supervises research candidates. In April 2011, he founded the Dr Audrin Mathe Strategies Inc., a consulting firm devoted to providing political and communication strategy.

Dr Mathe is a Karateka and even holds a black belt. He has been President of Karate-Zen Namibia since 2008. The Danish Boy Scouts and Scouts of Namibia jointly awarded him the Gilwell Scarf (wood badge) in 1997. He relaxes in fishing, writing and reading. Dr Mathe lives in Windhoek with his wife, Melitta and their children. PF