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Legislative body calls for investigation into newspaper's readers' page

(MISA/IFEX) - In a news article published in "The Namibian" newspaper on 9 December 2008, Margret Mensah, the chairperson of Namibia's Legislative body, the National Council, is reported to have called on the Ombudsman Office to investigate "The Namibian"'s sms (text message) readers' page and radio chat show programmes as to whether they are being used to demonise Namibian leaders. "The Namibian" publishes sms messages from readers on various topics in Namibia.

This follows a similar call that was made in May 2006, by the then minister of information and broadcasting, Netumbu Nandi-Ndaitwah, to the late Hannes Smith, editor of the "Windhoek Observer". This is the second motion by the National Council that calls for the media to be investigated.

In response, MISA-Namibia categorically stated that this call is not healthy for a growing democracy such as Namibia. It should be understood by all Namibians that media freedom is enshrined in the Constitution under article 21 1 (a). Further, freedom of expression is an inalienable right of every Namibian recognized by the Constitution. "These two provisions emphasize the role of the media in our society to serve as the fourth estate of government and to keep a steady flow of information between the people of Namibia and the three arms of government, namely the executive, judiciary, and legislature," MISA-Namibia stressed.

MISA-Namibia says that the media exists to tell the story as it is, without fear or favour. "That is not to say that the media does not hold any responsibility. The media should adhere strictly to the ethics of journalism and ensure that these are kept to the highest standards."

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