WINDHOEK - Minister of Information and Communication Technology Stanley Simataa yesterday said President Hage Geingob does not travel overseas for pleasure but for official engagements.
The Namibian recently reported that in 2018 Geingob travelled to 16 countries, spent 64 days abroad and qualified for an estimated N$850 000 in travel allowances, despite a ban the presidency placed on international trips by public officials on 1 February last year as part of cutting down costs.
It was also reported that in three years, Geingob travelled to 47 countries - 19 in 2015, 12 in 2016 and 16 countries in 2018.
In the formative years of his presidency, Geingob suspended foreign travels of all ministers, deputy ministers and political office bearers with immediate effect, aimed at cost-cutting.
Simataa however stated the President does not travel for pleasure but for official engagements.
“There have been reports which report only on the number of trips the President takes. Counting the number of trips and sometimes even the money that the President used. But we seem not to appreciate that Namibia is a member of global community. And being a member of the global community, Namibia does not exist in isolation,” the minister said.
“This is not an island. Even within the Sadc region, we are not an island. Namibia cannot afford not to participate in certain key engagements that shape the developments even here,” he stated at a Cabinet briefing yesterday.
He called on the nation to be mindful that some of these outcomes from these engagements take time to see the fruits.
Critics questioned whether was reasonable for Geingob to take “non-vital overseas” side trips when there is no money for the basics of what the people need, especially lack of housing and adequate medical facilities.
“So, when you report on the President travelling, you forget to say, ‘this is what the President was engaged in and this is what came out of those engagements.’ We need to recognise what emerges from the President’s and Cabinet ministers’ engagements. Nobody travels for pleasure. We have an obligation to honour,” Simataa said.
He urged media practitioners not to be selective in their reporting, saying: “Let’s not only go for the juicy part but convey everything.”
He asked the media to report accurately and fairly, but with no level of prejudice.
“Let’s avoid being armchair journalists. Let’s avoid armchair journalism. It implies that you just sit down and write your story without saying ‘this is the story, these are the key actors to the story.’ We expect you to report objectively with no prejudice,” he cautioned.
Furthermore, he said the media should at all times feel free to contact Cabinet ministers and other government officials to verify facts before publishing articles, adding that these officials are given gadgets for official communication.
He pleaded for patience from the media when seeking comment from Cabinet members, whom he said have a lot of commitments.
“I think it’s a fair request. If it’s unfair, let’s engage. We are serious in terms of what the President said on accountability. You are also required to be accountable for whatever you are doing. So please assist us,” he pleaded with journalists.
2019-02-08 11:44:21 8 days ago