THE gagging of the Patriot Newspaper by the Namibia Central Intelligence Agency (NCIS) over publishing of a story exposing the property deals of the spy agency should be widely castigated as it defeats and threatens to uproot the gains of government’s efforts to improve accountability and transparency as a key agenda of President Hage Geingob’s administration.
While we acknowledge that government has endeavoured to enhance access to information through open channels of communication as attested to by the numerous media engagements at the State House totalling over 200, the actions of the spy chiefs spit in the face of the agreed notion that a free and independent media is integral to the process of democratisation and good governance.
Without remorse, we also stand firm on the view of the Editors Forum of Namibia and those of the Namibia Media Trust that posit that the spy chief has revoked the emotions of the draconian 1982 Protection of Information Act which is rightfully so, unconstitutional as it violates both freedom of the speech and of the media.
Ideologies that we have become accustomed to as the media, and those that support the connotation that the government must be open to the press and allow for freedom of the press, take into account the fact that democratically elected governments are accountable to voters and their processes, are open to public scrutiny and at same time privatization shuts the public out of decision-making that deeply affects the public interest.
Extensively so, we function on the view that a free press and independent media is a primary enabler of basic human rights providing channels through which citizens communicate, if diverse and pluralist, it also has social and active effects on our society, politics and debates.
This has been supported in the report of the High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda, which posits that good governance is understood as a society’s ability to guarantee the rule of law, free speech and open and accountable government. In turn, freedom of expression is an essential pillar of governance more broadly, because this right enables as many citizens as possible to contribute to, as well as monitor and implement, public decisions on development.
It has been said that internal vigilance is the price of liberty. They raise voice against any dictatorship, corruption, and malpractices. The press and digital media works day and night to deliver accurate news at the speed of the light. The people of the country are kept informed of what is happening in the country. Thus, freedom of press and media is the necessary pre-condition to the fulfilment of democratic ideologies.
With transparency in governance being one the key issues even enshrined in Harambee prosperity plan for all, it is imperative to realise that the media has an important role to play. A lack of transparency ultimately feeds corruption which is one of the hardest issues that states have to face in the development process.
There is very little doubt that free, pluralistic and independent news media also contributes to empowerment via a social, economic and political process born of the public’s increased ability to access and contribute to credible information representing a plurality of opinions, facts and ideas.
With this view, we call upon the spy chiefs to stand down!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015