15 June 2001

Alert

National Youth Council joins advertising and purchasing ban against "The Namibian"


Incident details

newspaper(s)

harassed

(MISA/IFEX) - The National Youth Council of Namibia (NYC), a government-affiliated national youth umbrella body, has taken up the government's call to cease buying and advertising in "The Namibian" newspaper.


In an "urgent confidential internal memo", NYC Secretary General Pohamba Shifeta called on all staff, members of the Executive Committee, all regional youth forums and youth officers and constituency youth forums to stop advertising in or purchasing "The Namibian", the newspaper reported on Friday 15 June 2001.


Shifeta acknowledged responsibility for the memo and added that as "an agent of the Government," the NYC was "bound to honour this decision of Government."


In the internal memo, he warned NYC staffers that "anyone found defying this directive or authorising the advertising in this newspaper will be personally liable."


He concluded by saying that "all contractual agreements entered in advance with the intention of advertising in this newspaper [before this ban] should be cancelled with immediate effect. [In addition,] all youth groups/organisations [which] receives (sic) funds from the National Youth Council [should] not to (sic) use money for this purpose."


Shifeta refused to answer a question related to the future of "Open Talk", a youth publication inserted in "The Namibian", published with the assistance of NYC and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and funded by UNICEF's German Committee.


Meanwhile, "concerned NYC staff members' claim that the memo from the Secretary General was a 'unilateral' one, and had not been agreed [upon] in consultation with all NYC structures and the board."

Background Information


In March 2001, the Namibian government imposed an advertising boycott on "The Namibian" newspaper, claiming the newspaper was 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."


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


On 30 May, President Nujoma ordered a complete ban on the purchase of "The Namibian" by the government. This ban, which came into effect on 31 May, declared a total prohibition on the purchase of "The Namibian" newspaper with state monies. Government offices, ministries and agencies that had already placed advance orders were instructed to cancel them immediately.




Source

Media Institute of Southern Africa
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Private Bag 13386
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Namibia
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