Namibia: Editors Warn Against Media Bashing

(File photo).
5 August 2020

The Editors' Forum of Namibia (EFN) has warned against hostility towards the media by local politicians and private newsmakers.

EFN chairperson Frank Steffen was in particular reacting to the latest incidence where a screenshot message went viral, reportedly authored by Nampa news editor Maggy Thomas, who summoned a reporter, Edward Mumbuu, after he had asked President Hage Geingob questions unrelated to Covid-19 during a televised media briefing last week Friday.

Steffen noted EFN was seriously concerned that Nampa allegedly buckled under political pressure and distanced itself from the professional and ethical conduct of its journalist.

The questions directed to Geingob, related to the Fishrot scandal, the recent appointment of Tylvas Shilongo as ACC executive director and the transfer of senior police investigator Nelius Becker, has raised eyebrows.

As a public-owned news agency, which purports to subscribe to ethical journalism, Steffen said, Nampa was supposed to stand by its journalist, for asking those hard "unappreciated" questions during the media briefing.

"There was absolutely nothing wrong with the questions that Mumbuu posed to President Hage Geingob. As a journalist, he was seeking answers.

"The media conference was an ideal platform and he took advantage of this because he was well aware that we operate in an environment where answers to hard questions are not always forthcoming from public officials - the presidency included," Steffen maintained.

"The EFN, therefore, urges politicians, who are after all elected by the population for a limited period of time, to at all times refrain from assuming the right to dictate to government-owned media and their personnel, what should be allowed to be the content of their reports or - for that matter - questions, that will be allowed to be asked."

Nampa CEO Linus Chata this week roundly dismissed accusations against the news agency, saying it has never victimised, disciplined or fired any reporter for writing investigative stories critical of the government or any public office-bearer.

The Presidency this week also denied putting pressure on Nampa to summon or question the journalist for his view.

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