WINDHOEK: A media expert working for the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) says media and information communication technology (ICT) play a crucial role in Namibia’s democracy as it enhances citizen participation and good governance.
Karen Mohan, a specialist in the field of Media Law Policy and Advocacy at MISA’s regional secretariat was speaking at a one-day training workshop for senior local journalists on access to information in Namibia.
She stated that the media and ICT further play a crucial role in the country’s democracy by promoting freedom of speech, issues related to human rights, economic development, poverty reduction and equality in the country.
“Central to the fulfillment of this role is access to information by journalists and civil society organisations. The democratic principles on which Namibia was founded are derived from its Constitution, which states that the country is a sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary state, founded upon the principles of democracy, the rule of law and justice for all its people,” Mohan explained.
She stressed the fact that in order for Namibia to uphold the principles upon which the State was founded, the Namibian Government has a responsibility to facilitate full access to information through the media and ICTs to all people residing in the country.
Mohan told the participating local senior journalists that democracies rarely flourish without the existence of an independent media in any given country, as the media plays an important role in informing citizens about issues that affect their day-to-day lives.
She further stated that the media also ensures full public participation in the democratic decision-making processes of the country and this role is “particularly important during elections, where the media has the power to mobilise voters, inform them of their rights, and of any irregularities that may present themselves during the election proccess.”
Mohan repeatedly emphasised the point that the media acts as an important conduit of information and fulfills an important function in ensuring that information is distributed widely, as well as enhancing mechanisms for audience participation.
She noted that the “absence of a Legislation for Access to Information in Namibia hinders the media’s ability to report accurately, and in turn negatively affects its ability to provide quality information to the public.”
The MISA media expert added that the provision of information quickly and accurately is beneficial not only to the media and the public, but also to Government, as it decreases the probability of inaccurate and unreliable reporting by journalists with regard to Government’s actions and spending of the country’s financial resources.
Meanwhile, a conference on access to information in Namibia that brings together representatives from all local media houses, civil society organisations, members of the National Assembly, regional and international media experts and members of the private sector, is starting here on Tuesday.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology Joel Kaapanda is expected to officiate at the conference.