Access to information critical

23 April 2019 | Opinion

After many years of dilly-dallying Namibia still has no law that guarantees access to information. Access to government information cannot be overemphasised. Public institutions are there to serve the people and information sharing is just as critical. For ordinary citizens, gaining access to information is necessary for them to make informed decisions about issues that affect them. It was indeed welcoming to read that Namibia has regained its top position as the country with the freest press on the African continent. Namibia, which until last year had been ranked number one, in 2018 lost its position to Ghana as the country with the freest press, only to regain it recently according to the World Press Freedom Index. Namibia’s rise has been attributed to a number of factors and chief among them is the killing of an investigative Ghanaian journalist with Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ Tiger Eye PI. The late journalist - Ahmed Suale - was shot dead near his family home in Accra and it is believed that he was killed because of his work. Although Namibia has toppled Ghana once more, some local conditions remain adverse to media freedom in this country and this needs to change. Obviously the long-awaited access to information law, which is expected to be tabled in parliament this year, is seen as a game-changer for the local media industry and President Hage Geingob has affirmed that there is political will to see this process through. It is, therefore, our sincere hope that the Geingob administration will honour and fulfil its promise of finally enacting this law which is an essential principle of democracy. All we are asking for is a greater level of transparency and our government should not be secretive, over-sensitive and restrictive of information. And as the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) highlighted in its ‘Access Denied’ report, providing timely information to citizens will help them gain knowledge and to make informed decisions about participating in the developmental process of our country.