By Risco Lumamezi
NEW Media Ombudsman in Namibia, Mr. John Nakuta has catalogued the importance of the freedom of expression at the breakfast meeting held in Katima Mulilo on Thursday during his visit.
Mr.Nakuta, a Human Rights Lawyer and Lecturer at the University of Namibia addressed members of the local media houses, regional and local authority political leaders and heads of government entities and representatives from the NGO movement in the region on the critical role played by the media.
He stated the importance of the freedom of expression which enhance pluralistic information, independent and diversified media system saying the media is a watchdog in promoting transparency, accountability and public scrutiny of those with power through exposing.
The theme of the meeting echoed to the public on their upset with the media that accurate and balanced reporting forms the foundations for quality journalism as these principles are not always respected and therefore, the Media Ombudsman holds journalists to their professional Code of Ethics and Conduct.
“The media play a critical role and powerful role in society” he stressed. He added that the media serve its mandate to be the best through self-regulatory rather than state control and that Namibian media is regulated with the code of ethics.
He however, warned that journalists should not pay or be paid for information when gathering it from their sources. The 2017 revamped and consolidated Code of Ethics for Namibian print, broadcast and online Media narrates that the complaints are made to the Media Ombudsman with the Media Complaints Committee and Media Committee. The Media Ombudsman does not have jurisdiction over non-members & freelance journalists and advertising agents.
At the same occasion, Katima Mulilo Mayor Georgina Mwiya expressed her concerns to the media that have been reporting negative stories and urged journalists to report on development that is taking place in the town.
Zambezi Regional Governor, Alufea Sampofu also shared sentiments in giving report review on the media coverage in Zambezi region from the period of 2016 to 2018 and advice that freedom of expression enables the public to make informed decisions while making public institutions and political parties accountable.
He revealed that the media play a big role by informing the nation on development and what the regional government embark on. “From 2016 up to date we were make sure that we inform the nation on capital projects through the media” noted Sampofu.
According to him, land grabbing was the situation which went out of proportion with fishing and the issue of secession and regionalism, the scourge of HIV and AIDS and unemployment including critical thinking, consultation and communication.
“They have been misquotations from the media, we believe and accept criticisms, and free press is the only way we are looking for press to tell us on development” quashed the governor.
Sampofu urged the media to write and report accurately and objective not to twist stories. He further said that free press and independent media is the watch dog that helps the government.
“In Zambezi, we support free press with regional leaders to work together” he furthers.
However, regional head of Social Security Commission Mr. Regain Mukena poised his concerns on the self regulations of the Namibian media as it is “unfair”.
The media ombudsman was accompanied by Mr. Joseph Ailonga, Chairperson of Editors’ Forum of Namibia who also responded to questions raised during the breakfast meeting , Ms Luise Mwanyangapo, Project Manager for Fesmedia Africa which aims to promote freedom of expression in a democratic society concluded the meeting with vote of thanks.