Journalism increasingly under threat in Namibia

03 August 2020 | Opinion

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This quote, often attributed to French philosopher Voltaire, is one of the most fundamental reminders of tolerance and free speech.

Free speech is a critical pillar of our constitution and no one – absolutely no one – is empowered to take it away from another person.

The events on Friday, when a Namibian Press Agency (Nampa) reporter landed in trouble with his bosses, who themselves were seemingly under duress from high echelons of government, for asking President Hage Geingob a question during a press briefing at State House, are embarrassing.

The lame excuse that Edward Mumbuu used the wrong platform to ask the head of state about Fishrot is as laughable as the attempt by Nampa bosses to “warn” one of the brightest journalism prospects the country has to offer.

In fact, Mumbuu was overly respectful to afford Geingob the courtesy of asking if he (Mumbuu) may ask a question not related to the business of the day, permission which he was granted.

Was it expected that Mumbuu would shower the president with praises or read him a love poem chronicling what a wonderful man he is?

Questions, even uncomfortable ones, should be asked. Honest and capable leaders must be prepared to answer questions, especially those related to accountability and ethical uprightness. And while other citizens have an option not to answer, Geingob as president doesn't have that luxury.

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