Information minister Peya Mushelenga yesterday said the country was ready to host this year’s World Press Freedom Day amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The event will mark exactly 30 years since the signing of the famous Windhoek Declaration on 3 May 1991 that paved the way for a free, independent and pluralistic press.
The date of the declaration’s adoption, 3 May, has subsequently been declared as World Press Freedom Day.
“We will be welcoming close to 200 local and international delegates for the 1 to 3 May event, and while our focus is on the media, we would want them to find an opportunity while here and perhaps come back as tourists or as business persons,” said Mushelenga during a stakeholder engagement yesterday. “In compliance with our Covid-19 regulations, the global conference will be held both physically and virtually and, I believe the conference will draw greater participation through its online platforms,” said Mushelenga. The Namibian government has over the years reaffirmed the country’s commitment to media freedom, a feat that has seen the country being ranked number one with the freest press on the continent.
In the world, Namibia enjoys a ranking of 23. The theme for this year’s WPFD conference is “Information as a Public Good”, a befitting theme, according to Mushelenga as the nation finalises the Access to Information Bill, which seeks to promote access to public and private information by citizens of this country.
Mushelenga stated the Access to Information Bill aims to strengthen the country’s democracy and its continued efforts for accountable, transparent and inclusive governance.
He said added the hosting of this event of this global event provides the country with the opportunity to recast minds on the journey travelled to rekindle the country’s history of being the seat of this momentous declaration. “Preparations for the global event are well underway with our partner, UNESCO, and I can assure you that various teams are working around the clock to ensure that everything is in place, come that time,” he said. He said press freedom requires a multi-pronged approach and, therefore, multiple stakeholders.
Journalist and 2021 WPFD champion Toivo Ndjebela said it was pleasing to see the government working closely with the press.
“We are often perceived as fraternities of contrasting interest but that is not true. If anything, we are all geared towards the same aim, which is to see a thriving democracy, press and a government doing well in its mandate,” said Ndjebela.
“You would ideally want to continue as a momentum for this kind of collaboration between the government and the press.” - firstname.lastname@example.org