Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Cassinga, Mayday and the media

Every year, this week makes its appearance in a manner almost unexpected.  For newspapers few weeks compare with this week, as it compresses already tight deadlines in a manner that seeks to drain virtue from you.

With two holidays in one week, both significantly meaningful, the nation pauses to commemorate contributions made by Namibians in Cassinga 40 years ago and also on the shop floor of the labour movement.

Cassinga will be remembered tomorrow in song and speech at the Heroes Acre. I do not expect it to be a happy occasion especially since we have paid mere lip service to the sacrifices made by hundreds for 40 years now. Not even the presence of visiting Angolan President Joao Lourenco will sooth the pain of those who have wished for years to witness the repatriation of the remains of their loved ones.

Workers Day was celebrated on Tuesday in Khorixas and what was supposed to be a day of galvanising support for the prosperity and national development plans for the nation, became a sordid affair with the entire Presidency notoriously absent.  In the end, Cabinet minister Alpheus !Naruseb was roped in to save the day despite this being outside his line of duty. 

Where, you may ask was His Excellency? Was his absence a type of retaliation for the fact that he had to cancel the National Clean up Day or was there an event somewhere that was more important than that of the workers.

The workers are the most important drivers of any country’s growth, and if we do not value their sweat, the road towards prosperity could get very bumpy.

As a nation, we should desist from turning national days into political platforms. National days should act as pit stops to remind us as Namibians that we are Namibians before anything else.

Media day

Also worth noting is the downgrade last week by Reporters without Borders in terms of Namibia long held position as no 1 in Africa as far as press freedom is concerned.  Key to the reasons for the downgrade is self-censorship.  In its rationalisation of our downgrade the report states that “self-censorship is common in the state owned media.”

The abuse extended to journalists also gets a special mention as well as the ‘remuneration’ for pro-government media in the form of advertising revenue.

I mention this specifically as Namibians are famous for our ability to forget. Rankings are not awarded in isolation but they generally are informed by a set of behaviour and specific circumstances which are enforced both verbally and non-verbally. In the case of Namibia, we must not act surprised when we are confronted by an external review of our environment but own it and use it for introspection. Believe me, no one benefits from Namibia being perceived as less accountable and democratic.

Any country should recognize that journalists are important personalities in the community and they should therefore be enabled perform effectively, both on a personal and professional level. I am saddened by the fact that journalists, instead of being treasured for exposing social evils such as corruption, are seen as anti-regime agents.

With rampant corruption in government, Namibian journalists are seen as monsters who make up lies to destroy the persona of officials who hold public office. This is done despite the fact that the Namibian media has a fairly credible record when it comes to defamation cases. It is an undisputed fact that without the media, a lot of corrupt practices and social ills would not have come to light.

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