WINDHOEK – Media practitioners yesterday told a visting Southern African Development Community Electoral Advisory Council (Seac) delegation about their concerns over military presence on the streets in light of recent fatal shootings of two civilians.
The Seac team is in the country for a seven-day familiarisation mission to meet various stakeholders ahead of the November 27 National Assembly and Presidential elections.
As a standard practice, prior to the deployment of the Sadc Electoral Observation Mission (Seom) to any member state holding national elections, Seac conducts a pre-deployment goodwill mission to assess the country’s level of readiness and preparedness to hold national elections.
The three-member delegation yesterday held an information session with print and broadcast journalists on their preparedness in the coverage of the elections come November.
Some journalists raised alarm over the presence of the military deployed on the streets.
They feel such presence could instil fear among the journalists during the national elections and could compromise press freedom as the military restrict people from taking photographs on their operations or when their presence is felt.
“As much as we understand the police and military’s role to ensure peace and stability in the country, they should also make sure the journalists who will be deployed across the country are safeguarded from any intimidation,” a male journalist who refused to be named said.
“Most of us will be using our gadgets to post updates on social media platforms during the elections. But the fact that the Defence Minister Penda Ya Ndakolo has publicly warned citizens not to record videos of NDF and Nampol officers while on duty really instils fear in us as journalists,” he added.
This week, Ya Ndakolo warned citizens not to record videos of the Namibian Defence Force and the Namibian police while on duty, saying this could be used to identify the members who were at the spot for possible revenge or some other criminal intents.
Journalists yesterday called on the law enforcement agencies to sensitise their members when dealing with the media and ensure their professional journalism work is not interfered with during the election coverage.
During the session, it transpired that many media houses have a good working relationship with the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) in terms of information dissemination.
However, some journalists feel the electoral body could do more to publicise the election calendar to the public.
Seac member, Mpho Molomo said they are in the country on behalf of Sadc to observe democratic governance and elections.
“When a member state has elections, we come in the country to access the level of readiness for that country to observe those elections. Since you are the media, we feel you are a very important stakeholder that we must interact with. That’s why we invited you to come over,” he said.
He revealed they are also interacting with ECN, the state agencies such as military and police, the various political parties, civil societies and academia.
2019-09-20 07:37:10 | 8 months ago