Presidency denies pressuring NAMPA to summon or question journalist

Presidency denies pressuring NAMPA to summon or question journalist
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The Namibian Presidency says it prides itself for its highly lauded degree of transparency, accountability and media openness. It said, in a statement, that it did not at any point put pressure on the Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA) to summon or question a journalist. The Presidency does not intervene in the internal affairs of NAMPA, it said.
Reacting to a letter signed by over 80 Namibian journalists from various media houses in which they jointly condemned what they term "the constant muzzling of journalists’ freedoms and rights to practice their trade without undue influence".
A journalist from NAMPA, Edward Mumbuu, was castigated by President Hage Geingob before his employer attempted to reprimand him.
At a press conference where the president gave an update on COVID-19, the journalist requested permission to ask questions not related to the topic.
He asked whether the president was going to distance himself from his personal lawyer, Sisa Namandje, who is currently opposing attempts by the Law Society of Namibia to investigate trust funds under his care.
It is believed that Namandje might be involved in the Fishrot corruption scandal.
The management of NAMPA has distanced itself from Mumbuu and his questions a leaked communiqué in which an editor of the agency distanced themselves from the journalist’s conduct is making the rounds on social media.
The Presidency today stated, "the 14th COVID-19 update to which the press was invited lasted for slightly over two hours. This is a way above the norm and is a demonstration of a media-friendly environment President Hage Geingob promotes in line with the pledge of Government to champion press freedom."
The Presidency also said it is driven by the ethos of “no one should feel left out” and accommodates as many questions as possible, and Friday 31 July 2020 was no exception.
The Presidency emphasised that the point is not whether the journalist was within his right to ask difficult questions.
"It is the right of the President to express disappointment with a line of questioning that undermines the gravity of COVID-19 in favour of sensational journalism.
"The rights of the President, the Presidency and Government leaders to differ with journalists and the press on matters of national importance is what is at stake here," read a statement sent to the media Monday afternoon.
The Namibian Presidency said It is regrettable that sections of the press are increasingly intolerant of opposing views and healthy debate in a democracy.
According to the statement, they are not defending the freedom of expression principle of “your rights end where mine begin”.
Arguably, the erosion of public trust in the media as per the findings of a recent Afro-barometer survey implies that there is a need for a critical re-examination of the role of the media in a democracy and the promotion of a healthy debate.
It further said that it is blatantly clear that there is a section of the press that is not satisfied with the collective achievement of Namibia as the country with the freest press in Africa, and in the top 25 tier globally.