Prime Minister Saara Kuugogelwa-Amadhila has implored media practitioners to use their powers responsibly and support government’s efforts to improve the living standards of citizens.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said this during the global opening ceremony at the World Press Freedom Day event yesterday in the capital. She noted that with the advent of social media and other sources of information from the internet, it is required of the media to be more circumspect by analysing and giving perspective to the floating information to ensure that it is reliable and ready for public consumption.
“Meaningful and factual information remains the pulse of any democracy and good governance. I, therefore, take this opportunity to unreservedly reaffirm the Namibian government’s commitment to press freedom as expressed in our constitution,” she added.
The prime minister further said the rights and freedoms of the citizens and residents of Namibia are guaranteed in the constitution, which entrenches the bill of rights encompassing the freedom of the press and other media.
Namibia has held the first position in press freedom in Africa since 2013, except in 2018 when Ghana relegated Namibia to second place.
Meanwhile, information minister Peya Mushelenga emphatically highlighted the importance of a good and symbiotic relationship between the government, media as the fourth estate, as well as public and private institutions, adding that a good working relationship between the media and government provides for an informed citizenry that can partake in the country’s economic activities to propel sustainable economic development.
“We join the community of other nations to call upon governments and countries where press freedom is suppressed and where journalists are threatened for carrying out their work to change course and harness the benefits that press freedom brings. We stand in solidarity with those journalists who face untenable and banal threats, either online or in-person, daily across the globe,” stressed Mushelenga.
In a speech read on his behalf, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, observed that information as a public good is a cornerstone of human and peoples’ rights enshrined in African Shared Values Instruments and Standards.
“This right can’t be enjoyed without ensuring access to information, as well as the safety and protection of journalists who are playing an essential role in enabling participatory democracy globally,” stated Mahamat.
He added that journalists can, through the dissemination of information, facilitate citizens’ participation in public decision-making and express their views freely. It is thus not only important for information sharing, but also participation, accountability and good governance and democracy.
In 1993, the UN General Assembly, following a recommendation adopted at the 26th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991, proclaimed 3 May as World Press Freedom Day. It is a day to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom, evaluate press freedom around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day is ‘Information as a Public Good’.