WINDHOEK - The Editors’ Forum of Namibia (EFN) has expressed shock and dismay at Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi’s threat last week to bar parliamentary journalists from attending sessions.
He issued a warning to journalists on Thursday, describing their conduct of allegedly zooming into the mobile devices of MPs to view their private content as “unprofessional”.
This followed, among others, media reports of a minister having been caught on camera browsing a dating site on a mobile device during a parliamentary session.
Last week, another minister was pictures playing electronic games on his mobile phone while a session was in full swing.
“We wish to remind the Speaker that journalism has long been regarded as an important force in government and vital to the functioning of a democracy,” said Ronelle Rademeyer, the acting Secretary General of the EFN in a statement issued to the media.
Democracy requires an informed citizenry, said Rademeyer.
“If the leaders they elected choose to indulge in frivolous activities such as surfing dating sites while they are supposed to contribute to parliamentary debate about pertinent issues, the citizens need to know that,” Rademeyer said.
It would, however, be unethical for journalists to read personal information on the devices of parliamentarians, said Rademeyer.
“…We know for sure that even with long lenses, it would be impossible to read emails or other personal documentation on something as small as the screen of a smart phone,” she said.
“However, if a journalist would from the press gallery yonder recognise the look of a certain dating site on a device, it is within their right to inform citizens of such indiscretions. The EFN therefore condemns this attack on the media and encourages journalists to honour their duty whilst upholding the ethical code of conduct this forum adheres to,” Rademeyer urged.