ONAYENA – Society must look at the media not as public enemy number one, but as an important partner in the fight against corruption.
New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC) CEO Dr Audrin Mathe made this clarion call when he addressed hundreds of people attending the commemoration of the Africa Day of Decentralisation held at Onayena in the Oshikoto Region on Friday.
The media has a critical role to play in combating corruption, and its reports are among the most important sources of raising public awareness, Mathe told those in attendance.
Thus, he emphasised, media is an essential source of detection in corruption cases, for the benefit of either law enforcement authorities that investigate such allegations or for public institutions that can decide to conduct internal investigations.
Mathe observed that legal frameworks protecting freedom, plurality and an efficient judicial system that protect journalists from unfounded lawsuits, enhance the role of the media in detecting bribery cases.
“I must state that even the absence of certain protection, the media in Namibia has reported on corruption cases without anyone being arrested. This attests to the government’s attitude respecting the rights of all stakeholders in the country,” stated Mathe, when he spoke about good governance and promotion of the role of civil society and the media as a guarantee for success in curbing corruption.
In addition, the NEPC boss said Namibia should as soon as possible pass the legislation that will protect whistle-blowers, saying they are more often the source of information for journalists reporting on corruption stories.
He in the same vein strongly cautioned the media not to become complicit in committing corruption, even when it is well documented that the industry pays low wages.
This situation could tempt journalists into unethical acts such as accepting bribes, which itself undermines the efforts against corruption.
“The impact of what we choose to publish or not to publish has everlasting implications for both individuals and institutions concerned. Therefore, the media should not abuse its power against innocent people by merely reporting on unfounded perception of the existence of corruption,” stressed Mathe.
“It is not the media’s job to decide who is guilty or innocent of corruption. The damage to reputation cannot be fixed by a paragraph in the corner of a newspaper or a line at the end of a broadcast,” he cautioned.