THIS week Namibian media celebrated the High Court ruling that threw out an attempt by the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) to stop The Patriot newspaper from reporting on the alleged dubious dealings of the spy agency.
The ruling should serve as a strong message to unscrupulous individuals and organisations that they will not hide their corrupt activities under the veil of “state security” or any other security protection.
Namibia is a democratic country and all institutions, including the dreaded NCIS, which is funded by the taxpayer, adheres to democratic and above board practices in its conduct. Although not implying that the spy agency officials or former officials are guilty of any corrupt dealings, the High Court ruling sends a clear message that rule of law prevails in Namibia.
The 1982 Protection of Information Act is archaic and infringes on democratic principles. We join the Namibia Media Trust in calling for the out of touch law to be repealed. Such colonial legislation must not be abused to cover up corruption by stifling free access to relevant information.
The move by the NCIS to run to the courts to try and block a newspaper from publishing an article simply serves to confirm that they have something to hide. Surely the intelligence agency, as the country’s eyes and ears, must uphold the highest standards of ethics and must leave no room for any corrupt or unlawful activity. Like any other state institution, the media reserves the right to scrutinise the NCIS’s activities and expose any corruption within the organisation.
Namibia is a world leader in press freedom. This is a reputation that us in the media are prepared to fight for and improve upon, as we have seen in recent times some isolated incidences from authorities that threaten media freedom or access to information.
We thus will oppose any remnants of legislation that infringe on media freedom or freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitutional Bill of Rights.
Journalists must operate in an an environment free of intimidation from politicians or any other influential individuals or institutions. As journlists we remain committed to fierlessly carry out our watchdog duties to ensure that corrupt activities are nipped in the bud.
Let us bear in mind that a free and independent media is integral to the process of democratisation and good governance, and ultimately to human development.
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.
With transparency as an issue 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. Independent investigative journalism as provided by confidente is an ally of open government and thereby enhances the effectiveness, and thence the legitimacy of development processes.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015