AEC takes aim at Namibian daily

Media freedom in the spotlight
Frank Steffen
International Press Freedom Day is commemorated today while being officially celebrated in Chile under the theme "A press for the planet: Journalism in the face of the environmental crisis". This theme aims to ensure that the public has constant access to information, especially information related to climate change and its consequences.
To achieve this goal, governments are encouraged to create a safe environment for journalists to do their work without risk. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also launched their press freedom index for 2024 today.
In recent years, Namibia has been a leader in Africa on this index.
However, two days ahead of Press Freedom Day, an alarming attack was directed at the local daily, The Namibian, by the African Energy Chamber (AEC). The African Press Organisation (APO), which is affiliated with the African Union (AU) issued a media statement in which the AEC, possibly on behalf of its head NJ Ayuk, accused the newspaper of having its knife in for the AEC.
The statement begins by saying: "From the moment our late President Hage Geingob was honoured, the AEC and its executive members became the main enemies of The Namibian. The Namibian' does not represent the way Namibians view Africans and the oil and gas industry does not."
Why the AEC involved the late president Geingob in the media statement remains unclear, especially since Geingob was a supporter of press freedom.
In the media statement, the AEC compares the newspaper to the Rwanda radio station, 'Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines', which contributed to the genocide in Rwanda by inciting the public to support then president Juvénal Habyarimana and his army, to kill. In the name of the Hutu regime, the radio station openly incited hatred and justified the mindset of the genocide. It also has hate propaganda against moderate Hutus, Belgians and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda.
The Editors' Forum of Namibia (EFN) responded to the APO statement by saying: "The EFN would like to point out that most of the newspapers in Namibia, including the media controlled by the government, deviate from the ruling party's politics from time to time. This may be news to the AEC, but this is how democracy and a free press works.
"There are enough examples in Africa of the gas and oil industry leading to corruption and eventually political unrest, resulting in so-called strongmen taking over the government of affected countries in a brutal way. It was only a matter of time before the free press was restricted and the local people finally lost their voice," the EFN said in a media statement.
In light of this, the daily is therefore entitled to ask difficult questions and thus the EFN advises the AEC to contact the Media Ombudsman in Namibia with any complaints.