• June 2nd, 2020

Not govt’s wish to regulate social media – Nawatiseb

WINDHOEK – Government says it has no intention to regulate social media. This contradicts calls by some Swapo members of parliament who in June wanted the National Assembly to adopt a motion which could lead to the enactment of legislation to regulate social media.

Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Engel Nawatiseb yesterday at State House clarified Namibia’s status on the issue of regulating social media.

“We have been on record advocating for self-regulation of the media so that government is not forced to regulate social media. The Federal Republic of Ethiopia has submitted to their parliament  legislation to regulate social media. We are not yet there as a government. We don’t want to regulate you, we are appealing for self-regulation,” Nawatiseb maintained. 

Swapo chief whip Evelyn !Nawases-Taeyele, who tabled the motion in June, urged the National Assembly to consider adopting her motion to establish Namibia’s social cohesion which she said was under threat from the use of new technology, including social media.

She said it was time that Namibia also started regulating what people post on social media because other governments across the globe were also working hard to put in place measures to regulate social media against abusive usage. 

According to her, the simple traits of life such as decency, patriotism and morality were under threat in Namibia. She said although social media has proven to be beneficial to society, some people use the platforms to “bad-mouth, slander, offend and insult others”.

The African Commission for Human and People’s Rights Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Lawrence Mute, who paid a courtesy call to President Hage Geingob yesterday at State House, condemned the move to regulate social media.

He recommended that countries should not change the way they do things simply because they are dealing with social media. 

“We should not use different standards for social media. The standards should apply across the board in respect of freedom of expression issues. I have seen people in some African countries saying that students are doing their national exams and because we fear that the exams will be circulated illegally, we shut down social media. If you do that kind of thing, I don’t think you are helping the situation. Deal with the real problem,” Mute argued. 

Moreover, Mute said the commission condemns the idea of shutting down social media during election time.

He said countries should aim to embrace debate and not shut down social media.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zambia did not take kindly to Nawases-Taeyele’s motion to regulate social media in Namibia.

Misa regional chairperson Hellen Mwale said it must be noted that the online platform is a source of recourse for many citizens.

“The online platforms allow citizens to access information, communicate and assemble much more freely and at a cheaper cost than traditional media and physical space meetings or means of communication. Having such kind of a legislation would be an impediment and an assault to Namibia’s democracy and freedom of expression as people will find it difficult to openly discuss national matters amid fears of being prosecuted,” Mwale had reacted. 

Albertina Nakale
2019-09-17 06:57:49 | 8 months ago

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