Vice-president wants to censor social media

20 February 2017 | Government

Vice-president Nickey Iyambo says measures should be put in place to stop people from using social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to insult elders and disturb the peace of the country.

Iyambo was speaking at a donation handover event in Ondangwa on Friday.

He said Namibians, especially the youth, were using social media platforms to spread pornographic material, anti-government rants, tribalism, racism, xenophobia and insults.

“I am deeply concerned about the increasing irresponsible and destructive anti-nation-building utterances on social media, made mostly by some irresponsible youth, and adults who are supposed to have a sense of right and wrong and knowledge of the violent history our nation emerged from,” Iyambo said. “It is as if people are bored with peace and rather prefer disturbing the peace in our country whose freedom is written in the rivers of blood of many patriotic Namibian martyrs.”

He said it was “shocking, shameful and unacceptable” that even civil servants were using social media platforms to spread messages promoting tribalism and xenophobia against fellow citizens, foreigners and the government itself, making reference to the tribal spats reported to be taking place in the southern part of the country.

“A country full of people who are bent on a negative, divisive and warlike discourse can never amount to anything good except for its certain demise.

“A good example is the recent ugly primitive tribal clashes in Keetmanshoop. This is not the Namibia we fought for, the Namibia we know and the Namibia we want for our future generations,” Iyambo said.

Iyambo's remarks followed last week's event where the former deputy minister of land reform, Bernadus Swartbooi, referred to land reform minister Utoni Nujoma as an “idiot” in parliament. The insult drew mixed reactions on social media.

Last month, a WhatsApp video of a married woman fondling a single man went viral and flooded social media networks.

Politicians of opposition parties and the ruling Swapo Party alike have been using social media platforms to criticise the government for the financial status of the country and other issues such as land reform.

Iyambo called upon government institutions such as the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Safety and Security and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology to take steps on social media to arrest potential national threats.

He acknowledged that social media had their benefits, saying if they were used correctly they could enhance nation-building and the realisation of citizens' needs for communication, affirmation, and socialisation.

“Let's address our problems in a civilised manner, and not in a barbaric, primitive, violent way, because we only have this one Namibia and if we lose it, we will all become permanent refugees like some others,” he said.

Iyambo said the education system should transform children into better adults who were productive, tolerant and respectful of their elders, peers and other cultures.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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