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Ten-year-old advertising ban on "The Namibian" lifted

(MISA/IFEX) - 7 September 2011 - The Namibian Institute of Southern Africa, MISA Namibia, applauds the Namibian Government for lifting the unpopular ban that was imposed on "The Namibian" newspaper ten years ago. In a two-paragraph statement on the letterhead of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Minister Joel Kaapanda confirmed a recent cabinet decision that effectively brings an end to the advertisement ban imposed on "The Namibian" newspaper by the government.

In addition, "The Namibian" newspaper confirmed that the ban was lifted in an article published on 31 August 2011, titled "'The Namibian' unbanned."

According to the article, Cabinet further directs offices, ministries and agencies to source all local newspapers for political office bearers and senior government officials in accordance with their sectoral requirements and interests.

"The Namibian" is the only known newspaper that was prevented from enjoying advertisement revenue by such a ban.

The report further says that, interestingly, the ban was decided on the birthday of "The Namibian"'s founding editor, Gwen Lister, on 5 December 2000 and the recent announcement marks the reversal on the anniversary of the historic first edition of the activists-driven newspaper 26 years ago.

MISA Namibia National Director Marbeline Mwashekele expressed satisfaction that a big portion of the newspaper-reading population who was denied access to important government announcements and information will now have access.

Mwashekele says the dissemination of information to all citizenry through all relevant media entities can surely contribute to the positive development of Namibia. People need access to information to be able to make informed decisions about their lives, social issues, economic issues, and political issues, in addition to enhancing their interaction with the government.

The right to information must be guaranteed by law and in accordance with international principles and best practices. An access to information law guarantees every citizen the right to access information and the duty on the part of government to make information available, she says.

Namibia has no access to information law and as such citizens cannot easily access information in the hands of government and public institutions.

Mwashekele says, "The right to know, access to information (ATI) or freedom of information (FOI) is a fundamental human right for all citizens. Enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to know is also affirmed in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. Article 9 of the Charter states: 'Every individual shall have the right to receive information'."

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