per only, but Namibians have to live and
revel in them.
A 2008 article published in The Namibian quoted former Prime Minister Hage
Geingob warning journalists to “tell the
truth and nothing but the truth”, adding
that “the press is there to report positively on events”. Herein lay the problem
- the Geingob administration wanted
‘sunshine journalism’, meaning the media must only report on positive developments and to create an image that all
was well in the Land of the Brave.
Along the same lines, during a media
briefing on Cabinet decisions in April
2017 Tweya cautioned media houses to
report positive developments instead of
focusing on negative or non-factual stories, according to a New Era article.
This, while all was not well in what is
known as the ‘Land of the Brave’.
The country experienced high rates of
violence against women and children,
corruption, poverty, alcohol and drug
abuse. Recent budget cuts had left
schools, hospitals and clinics short on
staff, medication, medical equipment,
textbooks, stationery, cleaning materials
and toilet paper. Were the media supposed to ignore all this and only report
on yet another speech made by a minister at the opening of a workshop or
In a landmark 1996 High Court case
(Fantasy Enterprises v Minister of Home
Affairs, 1996), the judgement stated that
“the need to jealously protect the right to
freedom of speech and expression and
the value thereof in a democratic society
has been stated and restated over many
decades in many jurisdictions all over
the world.” The High Court judge further
argued that the concept of freedom of
speech and expression is “not limited in


So This is Democracy? 2017

content to that which can be regarded
as pleasing, inoffensive or indifferent,
but extends also to that which disturb,
offend or shock.”
In addition to the socio-economic challenges faced by ordinary citizens, the
media and civil society began to face
crippling financial decline.
Due to Namibia being labelled a middle-income country seen against the
background of the global economic
slowdown; the country was no longer
the darling of the international donor
community. At least two civil society
organisations had closed down annually
over the last three years.
Social media had become the preferred
source of news for many, which resulted
in a decrease in newspaper sales. Print
was trying to find ways to gain revenue
from their online versions, but this was
still in its infancy stages and it is not yet
known if this would succeed in enhancing their financial sustainability.
News stories of underachievement, corruption, nepotism or failure of government policies remain vital in pointing
out where the nation needs attention
- for directing, assisting efforts towards
achievement of national goals. Perhaps,
as Tawana Kupe suggests, media (party,
government or private) need to find
some sort of common ground - “a balance between an affirmation of positive
developments … and highlighting those
tensions that signal that all is not well.”

The media would be the first to admit
that it is not perfect, hence the commitment to consistently improving and
strengthening the self-regulatory system.
During the year under review, the Editors’ Forum of Namibia (EFN) appointed

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