Namibia continues to be ranked the country with the freest media environment in Africa, according to the latest 2020 Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters Without Borders.
Following publication of the 2020 World Press Freedom Index (RSF) yesterday, Namibia retained its position at number 23 as one of the top 25 countries in press freedom globally. Namibia also preserves the coveted number one position in Africa. The World Press Freedom Index includes 180 countries, which makes the performance of Namibia remarkable.
Presidential Press Secretary Alfredo Hengari expressed satisfaction with Namibia retaining top position in Africa and upper tier country status in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index
In its column on Namibia, Reporters Without Borders stated, “Press freedom has a firm hold in Namibia, Africa’s best ranked country in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index, and enjoys solid guarantees. It is protected by the constitution and is often defended by the courts when under attack from other quarters within the state or by vested interests.” Expressing satisfaction with Namibia retaining the top position in Africa for two consecutive years,
Hengari stated, “I’m pleased with our performance as a top tier country in the world and for retaining the number one position in Africa. Freedom of the press is not an option; it is indispensable to our democracy and our continued efforts for effective, transparent and inclusive governance. Our ranking as the number one country in Africa is not only a reward for the Namibian government, including President Geingob’s consistent clarion call to defend press freedom for as long as he is President, but it is also reward for journalists and media practitioners, who must embrace with pride and patriotism this significant achievement. Many fought for Namibia to be independent, and inherent in our fight for freedom was the full enjoyment of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression, of which freedom of the press is a vital component.”
“Following yet another milestone in press Freedom for Namibia, the Presidency wishes to reaffirm the commitment of President Geingob to the Declaration of the Principles of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration. In that vein, the Presidency wishes to encourage journalists and media practitioners to be guided at all times by the self-regulatory Code of Ethics and Conduct for Namibian Print, Broadcast and Online Media, which calls inter alia, for accuracy, fairness and balance in reporting,” stated Hengari. “The Presidency wishes to re-affirm commitment to the principles of the 1991 Windhoek declaration.”
However, some local media practitioners are sceptical saying the media environment in Namibia is changing and not changing for the better.
According to veteran journalist and owner of The Patriot Newspaper Hilda Basson-Namundjebo, there is a tremendous shift and access to information being threatened in the process.
“I see a lot of times the media is criticised for asking critical questions. You find that sometimes we are seen to just be asking question because maybe we woke up with an agenda that morning. But, as journalist we objectively interpret what is in the heart of the nation and then we proceed to ask these relevant and critical questions,” said Basson-Namundjebo.
She further added at the end of the day press freedom means, having total access to information. Critiquing her fellow media practitioners, Basson-Namundjebo said there is a lack of standards as journalists fail to take their jobs seriously.
“I think we need to go back to our journalism ethics and standards. You find journalists making basic errors- such as grammatical errors or getting names wrong, which is just not acceptable,” she said.
Editor of News on One Maggie Forcelledo said although Namibia is ranked favourably, the situation on the ground does not paint that picture. – firstname.lastname@example.org