Aochamub against media regulation
Press Secretary in the Office of the President, Albertus Aochamub, has come out strongly against regulation of the media, while at the same time clarifying that it was not government or SWAPO’s position to censor news in any way.
Aochamub’s sentiments comes in the wake of the widely-publicized comments attributed to Information and Communication Technology Minister, Tjekero Tweya, who announced that government will regulate and punish the media, by using an instrument in the Access to Information Bill that allows for the formation of a regulatory body.
Aochamub said that what the minister said is not what SWAPO fought for.
“Media freedom is the lifeline of a vibrant and democratic future for all nations. Self-regulation is fully supported in the context of the Code of Ethics that every media practitioner and media owner should abide by.
“I am merely confirming the unassailable government position on media freedom and what SWAPO fought for,” Aochamub said when contacted by the Windhoek Observer as the newspaper sought clarity on whether what Tweya said recently was the official government position.
Aochamub, a former Director General of the public broadcaster, nbc, before his move to State House last year, explained that media freedom is the key building block in any country. “The position of government is that media freedom is a key building block in building a more transparent Namibia. The media must act ethically, and ensure balanced and fair reporting at all times, as it complements government’s developmental agenda.
“Where the media fails to uphold those minimum standards of ethical behavior, some would agitate for some form of regulation. In Namibia, we are not at a stage where government regulation of the media is necessary, even though discussion in that direction might have commenced in some quarters,” Aochamub.
In his speech during the 5th Gender and Media Summit Awards ceremony that took place recently, Tweya slammed the way media houses and journalists operate.
He said that government will definitely deal with reporters and media houses which are found to be “reporting irresponsibly.”
“Going forward, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology will insist and drive the agenda that a statutory body [should] be created as a matter of urgency, to ensure that the media is held responsible in the event that they abuse their power to report, write and broadcast, and make themselves guilty of defamation and slandering of people’s character in public, and getting away with murder. This tendency must come to an end,” The Namibian quoted Tweya as saying.
Tweya is expected to table the Access to Information Bill in the National Assembly later this year.
If the Bill is enacted, it will give every individual the right to seek, access and receive information from public or private bodies that perform public functions.
University of Namibia (Unam) Media Studies lecturer Robin Tyson said that he does not see why government wants to regulate the media.
“We have the Media Ombudsman and Editors’ Forum that guides us…. I just don’t see why government or any other body wants to regulate the media. The media should self-regulate,” Tyson said.
Namibia currently does not have a law that guarantees free access to information on issues of significant public interest.