Access to information held by government or public institutions is
not easily obtainable. Though freedom of expression and human
rights are guaranteed in a democratic Namibia, secrecy prevails,
as there is no access to information law or even a government
communication policy to guide public service information officers
on how and when to communicate with the public.
Rather, Namibia’s legal background is primarily designed to
encourage secrecy and confidentiality, with apartheid-era
legislation, such as the Protection of Information Act 1982, still
in need of repeal.
Access to information is necessary for the realisation of the basic
rights to freedom of opinion and expression that are guaranteed
in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, numerous
other international human rights instruments, and the Namibian
Constitution. The Namibian Government is not legally obligated
to share or disclose any details regarding their operations and
largely acts under a veil of secrecy, unless it decides on its own
accord to share information or the information is leaked to the
media by whistleblowers. Access to information is also essential
for people to realise their basic right to participate in the
governing of their country and to live under a system based on
the informed consent of the electorate.
Access to information provides the public with the opportunity
to report and comment on issues of local interest, which are
recognised as critical enablers for empowerment of the poor and
for social liberty. An improved information flow and a greater
range of communication channels are needed to meet the
information needs of the poor and rural citizens, and to advance
perspectives in policy discourse.
The right of access to information is also guaranteed by Article
9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which
has been further developed by the Declaration of Principles on
Freedom of Expression in Africa as a fundamental and inalienable
human right and an indispensable component of democracy and
development, including socio-economic development.
In addition to the absence of an access to information law,
Namibia still does not have legislation protecting whistleblowers,
which can act as a deterrent to citizens reporting dishonesty,
bribery, and corruption.
New regulations added to the Research, Science and Technology
Act 2004, which requires government permission to conduct
research, further dampened citizens’ access to information when
inserted in 2013. The Act now defines research as “the systematic
investigation or analysis into, and study of, materials, sources and
the physical universe in order to establish facts and knowledge
and reach conclusions”. It also demands that any organisation or
individual conducting any activity that could be termed ‘research’
apply to the government-appointed National Commission of

Research, Science and Technology for permission. The regulations
stifle freedom of expression, access to information, and academic
In September, asserting its right to access public information,
the Access to Information (ACTION) Namibia Coalition called
on President Hifikepunye Pohamba to release the fourth
Delimitation Commission report. The report not only contains
recommendations made by the Commission, but also the views
expressed during public hearings and direct submissions. The
government’s decision to create additional constituencies, split
the Kavango Region in two, and rename several constituencies
and regions is presumably based on the report.
The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology is in
the process of developing an access to information policy, which
should precede the drafting of a Bill on access to information.
Two new laws that will further impact the public’s access to
information is the Data Protection Bill and the Cyber Law. It is
unclear at this time when these will be enacted. Towards the end
of 2014 Namibians will go to the polls to vote in the National
Assembly and Presidential Elections.

MISA Namibia joined other MISA Chapters in participating in a
study to establish the most open and secretive government and
public institutions. MISA Namibia selected eight institutions to
survey. The survey began on the 16th of June and was concluded
on the 16th of July 2014.
The following government and public institutions were surveyed:
1. Roads Contractor Company (RCC)
2. Namibia Housing Enterprise (NHE)
3. National Council (NC)
4. National Planning Commission (NPC)
5. Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture
6. Ministry Of Health and Social Services (MHSS)
7. Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare (MGECW)
8. Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF)

The main purpose of this study was to assess the level of openness
in government and public institutions in the country. The results
of the study will continue to inform MISA Namibia’s campaign for
legislation on access to information (ATI).


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