Namibia: Geingob Lauds Namibia's Top Free Press Ranking in Africa

The World Press Freedom Day poster for 2019.

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob has promised more transparency after Namibia reclaimed its position as the country with the freest media in Africa.

Namibia lost the top position to Ghana last year, but the latest 2019 World Press Freedom Index has restored the country's glory days. Namibia is ranked 23 out of a global ranking of 180 countries.

State House spokesperson Alfredo Hengari issued a statement today (Thursday), saying Geingob reaffirms commitment to media freedom.

He said Geingob and the Namibian government recognise that access to information is a critical enabler of the electorate in holding elected leaders accountable.

"In that vein and to further enhance the president's commitment to transparency and to increase public levels of trust in government, the Access to Information Bill will be tabled in parliament in 2019," Hengari said.

The spokesperson said the president has in the past said that the media plays a key role in shining light on processes, systems and institutions in a democracy, and should view itself as an "integral component of our governance architecture".

"As long as our electorate put us here, our government will guarantee freedom of the fourth estate, which plays a constructive role in the Namibian House," Geingob said in the statement issued by Hengari.

Despite the latest ranking, Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that came up with the ranking and aims to hold governments around the world accountable for free speech restrictions, said Namibia still has issues to iron out.

Namibia's constitution guarantees free speech and protects journalists, "but the lack of a freedom of information law continues to obstruct their work. Those who dare to criticize the authorities are often the target of government threats or insults," the press watchdog said.

"Pro-government media are meanwhile getting an ever larger chunk of the revenue available from advertising, which is threatening the financial prospects of the privately-owned media and independent news coverage," the Reporters Without Borders said on its website.

The organisation also mentioned the court case when the Namibia Central Intelligence Service tried to block The Patriot newspaper from publishing a corruption story involving the spy agency last year.

The intelligence service lost the case after the High Court and Supreme Court ruled against the intelligence agency.

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