30 May 2001

Alert

President orders government boycott of


Incident details

newspaper(s)


(MISA/IFEX) - President Sam Nujoma has ordered a total ban on the purchase of "The
Namibian" by the Government of the Republic of Namibia.


The president issued the directive hot on the heels of an earlier cabinet decision to ban government line ministries from advertising in the newspaper on grounds that it maintained an
"anti-government stance".


In a State House memorandum, leaked to the newspaper, the president ordered as follows: "I hereby instruct with immediate effect from May 31 2001 the purchase of 'The Namibian' newspaper with state monies must be ceased forthwith. Government offices/ministries/agencies who may have already placed their orders in advance must ensure that those orders are cancelled immediately."


Secretary to the President Isaac Kaulinge confirmed the authenticity of the statement on Tuesday 29 May 2001.


The president went on to say that "this directive is in support of an already existing cabinet decision that banned all government advertisements in 'The Namibian'." He added that "political office bearers and senior government officials who are affected by this directive and who are interested in reading 'The Namibian' may buy the newspaper with money from their own pockets and not with State funds."


The memorandum was addressed to all government office bearers from the prime Minister to the permanent secretaries and accounting officers and was dated 28 May.


One member of government, who was asked about the reason for the move, said that it was felt that the ban on government advertising in "The Namibian", via a cabinet decision taken on 5 December 2000 and reiterated in a confidential memorandum in March, was "inadequate" and that a ban on bulk purchases of the newspaper would possibly "teach the newspaper a lesson."

Background Information


In March, the Namibian government slapped an advertising boycott on "The Namibian" newspaper, claiming the newspaper is too critical of its policies. The decision to ban advertising was taken at a cabinet meeting on 5 December 2000. Government departments, however, were reminded in March to heed the cabinet decision "with immediate effect."


At the time, government representative Mocks Shivute did not state the motive for the ban, but the ban appeared to be aimed at throttling "The Namibian" financially. The government is the single biggest advertising client in the country.


NAMIBIA FACT SHEET


* The advertising ban on "The Namibian" followed a call from Swapo Youth League leader Paulus Kapia in November 2000 for the government to stop advertising in "The Namibian" and for Swapo supporters to stop reading the newspaper.


* The Namibian government has from time to time expressed its dissatisfaction with what it perceives as critical reporting in "The Namibian".


* Prime Minister Hage Geingob has accused some media organisations, which he did not name, of tarnishing the country's image abroad through their reports.


* In February 2001, Minister of Mines and Energy Jesaya Nyamu refused to grant an interview to "The Namibian" on the diamond mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This occurred after he had made the revelation to "Die Republikein 2000", which until 2000 had aligned itself with the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), the party Swapo loves to remind of its links to the apartheid regime.


* A similar boycott was instituted against the "Windhoek Advertiser" several years ago. At the time a report in the "Windhoek Advertiser" had falsely accused President Nujoma of being involved in illicit diamond deals. The newspaper was forced to apologise. It later collapsed due to a lack of revenue.


(Source: "The Namibian" newspaper contributed to this report)

Recommended Action


Send appeals to the president:

- demanding that the government review its decision to boycott "The Namibian" newspaper

- calling on the government, as a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, to stay true to the principles of that declaration which guarantees everyone the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers

- demanding that the government, as a signatory to the African Charter, heed provisions in the Charter which upholds media freedom and the free flow of information

- noting that Namibia, as the seat of the Windhoek Declaration www.misa.org/aboutmisa.html,">http://www.misa.org/aboutmisa.html">www.misa.org/aboutmisa.html,is duty-bound to ensure the upholding of the lofty objectives contained in the declaration which, among others, campaigns for the establishment of an independent, pluralistic and free press

Appeals To


APPEALS TO:


President Sam Nujoma

State House

Robert Mugabe Avenue

Private Bag 13339

Windhoek, Namibia

Tel: +264 61 220 010

Fax: +264 61 221 770


Please copy appeals to the source if possible.




Source

Media Institute of Southern Africa
21 Johann Albrecht Street
Private Bag 13386
Windhoek
Namibia
misaalerts (@) gmail.com
Fax:+264 61 248016
Namibia
 
More from Namibia
  • NAMIBIA TRANSPARENCY ASSESSMENT 2018

    The Citizens' Analysis of Government Openness

  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Namibia

  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Namibia

    Ranked 67th in annual global media freedom report