Shanghala urges restraint

12 July 2019 | Government

Justice minister Sacky Shanghala this week spoke out against hate speech, xenophobia and irresponsible social media postings, as well as personal attacks on national leaders.

Speaking in the National Assembly, he warned particularly young Namibians that their negative posts about the Namibian government will count against them if they seek to travel or relocate abroad.

“Remember, being young is not permanent. As a young old man, I am very much alive to the reality that I have another 15 to 18 productive years to go before I reach retirement age at 60, before I start retreating to the back benches and out of this House so as to allow a younger, more energetic cadre to come to the fore,” he said.

Shanghala added that the constitution guarantees Namibians' freedom to express their views, but warned against making personal attacks.

He said competing interests, the generational divide, and sometimes plain sensationalism have become prominent in the national discourse.

“I am not for one moment suggesting that we, public figures, shy away from criticism or the harsh realities many of our citizens find themselves subjected to.

“Accountability remains a cornerstone of good governance in fostering the trust required to achieve effective social cohesion for the benefit of all Namibians.

“We need to ensure that as a collective, each and every citizen contributes positively to social cohesion, including, and perhaps particularly, those in positions of power and influence, rather than fostering social erosion. We need not resort to undignified, malicious, disrespectful, false, defamatory and divisive language and discourse,” he said.

He also cautioned that Namibians must remember that their posts, tweets, articles and social commentary on the internet are visible to all, including those who seek to do business with or invest in Namibia.

“This great power of communication in the electronic day and age should be exercised with the appropriate degree of caution and responsibility.

“By the way, just so you are aware, the growing trend is that countries are requesting access to the social media accounts of applicants for study permits, work permits, visas and residency applications.

“This is not what we are doing. I am merely informing you that this is what other countries are doing,” he said.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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