The abuse and restraint of journalists

05 August 2020 | Opinion

We, a concerned group of journalists from across the spectrum of media houses in Namibia, take it upon ourselves to condemn in the strongest terms the constant muzzling of journalists' freedoms and rights to practise their trade without undue influence. This stems from, among other things, the recent incident involving one of our colleagues, Edward Mumbuu, who had an encounter with President Hage Geingob – a politician – during which he freely and with permission asked questions which were in the public interest and needed to be addressed.

Ironically, the management of the Namibia Press Agency (Nampa) viewed our colleague's will and zeal to execute his duties as a matter deserving retribution. This resulted in a leaked communique in which the agency's management distanced itself from the journalist's conduct. This incident confirms allegations that state-owned media continue to be controlled by politicians (elected officials) to advance their personal interests, thereby suppressing the mandate of these media outlets, which is to advance the voices of the voiceless.

It is disappointing to witness the managers of state-owned media dancing to the tune of their masters' sad song of betrayal of the Namibian people. As a collective we believe it is the prerogative of newsroom managers to stand up and protect staff members instead of leaving them exposed to intimidation and threats. They should be the challengers and critics of the government of the day in building the nation. Their lethargy is an impediment to democracy. It is our firm belief that Namibia, being a torchbearer of media freedom, should protect the rights of journalists and create an atmosphere in which journalists are able to operate freely, independently and uncensored, while promoting democratic values by encouraging debates on contentious issues. While this was just one of many incidents during which media bosses and the authorities have tried to suppress a journalist, this trend is growing in the industry and needs to be dealt with.

As the press corps, it is imperative that we operate in an environment that is supportive, free and conducive to our daily routines, bearing in mind that our trade is one that is highly intensive, driven by nothing but the need to communicate with, inform and educate the Namibian public. Our country's history is a story of disempowerment, exclusion and persecution. The media play an important role in ensuring history is not repeated. We need to ask difficult questions to uphold the victory of our independence. We do this with pride, although in challenging circumstances. As a nation we should never forget the havoc systemic and systematic corruption has caused in this country. Many corruption schemes would have continued unabatedly if not exposed by the media.

When the authorities punish a journalist for asking difficult questions, they are betraying the victory over persecution and they are eroding the progress made towards a free Namibia. We will not stand by and watch this happen.

The media answers to taxpayers – not politicians.

Yours sincerely, Signatories:

Mathias Haufiku, Tiri Masawi, Jemima Beukes, Charmaine Ngatjiheue, Sakeus Ikela, Augetto Graig, Yokany Oliveira, Karin Eloff. Theresia Tjihenuna, Arlana Shikongo, Penda Hashoongo, Chelva Wells, Denver Kisting, Jonathan Beukes, Tuyeimo Haidula, Tileni Mongudhi, Shinovene Immanuel, Hesron Kapanga, Kaipaherue Kandjii, Sonja Smith, Timo Andreas, Marco Ndlovu, Daniel Nadunya, Jo-Mare Duddy, Uushona Hiskia, Henritte Lamprecht, Francoise Steynberg, Helge Schutz, Kelvin Chiringa, Nghinomenwa Erastus, Andreas Kathindi, Jeaneth Haipare, Ndapewoshali Shapwanale, Mericah Urii, Ogone Tlhage, Lee Garises, Emil Seibeb, Werner Menges, Limba Mupetami, Rosalia David, Linea Dishena and Shelleygan Petersen, Esther Mbathera, Lydia Pitiri, Timo Shihepo, June Shimuoshili, Elizabeth Joseph, Okeri Ngutjinazo, Walter Kariko, Rochelle Cornelius, Tertu Newaka and Clemes Miyanicwe, Aleta Shikololo, July Nafuka, Lamyaa Linus, selima Hanock, Eveline Paulus, Pricilla Mukokobi, Hileni Nembwaya, Elina Nakambale, Lugeretzia Kooper, Elvis Simboy,Timo Shihepo, Selma Shimwaya, John Muyamba, Timo Andreas, Uakutura, Kambaekua, Petrus Muronga, Loide Jason, Rudi Bowe, Vazemba Rodman , Maria Kandjungu, Michael Uugwanga, Faith Sankwasa, Franklin Muningirua, Joseph Sheefeni, Tjizimuae Undari, Panduleni Shilongo, Sheefeni Nikodemus, Kenya Kambowe, Daniel Ashipala, Donald Marthys, George Hendricks, Sonia Smith, Tutaleni Pinehas.

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