Presidency accuses media of bias

22 November 2019 | Politics

State House has accused the media of showing bias and trying to influence the electorate in the run-up to next week's general election.

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari in a statement seemed to suggest that the media were on a mission to discredit President Hage Geingob following the publication of an array of articles he felt showed bias.

“Namibians hear and read how foreign countries and media meddle and try to influence the outcome of elections in other countries.

“It is now very apparent that during the current election season, Namibians are curiously bombarded with negative and largely distorted articles coinciding with a time when they [Namibians] must take a decision about the candidate and political party of their choice,” Hengari said.

Hengari also claimed that the timing of the coverage of certain scandals that were recently published, notably the so-called Fishrot scandal in which two of his ministers resigned, was aimed at tarnishing his reputation.

“The proliferation of articles seeking to tarnish the name of the president by foisting it by hook or crook in reports is not innocent. The Fishrot scandal and the Kora Awards are, in a calculated manner, timed to influence the outcome of the elections, with more reports expected to be released ahead of 27 November 2019,” Hengari said.

Hengari further claimed media organisations timed the questions they sent to State House and that there were instances where responses were meticulously and exhaustively provided on several occasions to domestic and foreign media.

“Disturbingly, some questions are deliberately submitted late, with the script already written and predetermined. Attempts to interfere with the choice of Namibian voters to make their democratic choice by executing a campaign of disinformation are regrettable,” Hengari said.

Namibia Media Trust (NMT) chairperson Gwen Lister called Geingob's statement thoughtless.

“The Fishrot investigation has been years in the making. An exposé of this magnitude should be welcomed by all Namibians, regardless of when it is uncovered, as it reveals ruthless plunder of our natural resources and the greed of individuals,” she said.

Geingob's focus, Lister argued, should have been on fake news relating to the election that is widely being circulating on social media

“The president is being disingenuous and confusing people by attacking real news, rather than the prevalent disinformation circulating on social media around the election campaign. The resignation of two ministers and other key people is proof of the veracity of the Fishrot reports,” Lister said.

She defended the work of the media saying it was informing the nation about scandals that affected their livelihoods.

“Namibians not only need, but also have the right to know when our resources are being abused at the expense of the majority of our people, and journalists are playing a major part in informing the nation.”