By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Minister of Information and Broadcasting Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday held official talks with her Zimbabwean counterpart Dr Tichaona Jokonya regarding the strengthening of the Namzim bilateral agreement. In February 2004, ministers of information from Zimbabwe and Namibia signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enter into joint broadcasting and print ventures. The MoU between the two countries led to the creation of the Southern Times newspaper, co-owned by Zimpapers and New Era Publications Corporation. In welcoming the Zimbabwean Minister of Information and Publicity Jokonya, Ndaitwah commented that since the signing of the agreement two years ago, the public media houses involved in the project had not successfully implemented all the undertakings outlined in the MoU. The Southern Times newspaper, produced weekly, had faced hurdles that are mainly financial. This has delayed the full realisation of the MoU. Despite that, Ndaitwah said the achievement made by the two institutions was something to be proud of. “Since the Southern Times is to date the only initiative to have taken off, we should not leave any stone unturned to ensure its survival and to secure its growth,” she stated. The talks are expected to find ways of supporting the regional newspaper so that it continues to play its role in disseminating information about the region. The Zimbabwean minister reminded Namzim board members that the initiative (Southern Times) was not fortuitous but must meet the aspirations of the people of the two nations. “We must finish what is on the agenda. We want to return home with something we can give our people for development,” he stated. In August 2001, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states in Blantyre, Malawi, signed the SADC protocol on Culture, Information and Sport, which encourages regional cooperation with respect to information availability. Jokonya said young people in the media have a daunting task to help the people of the region celebrate all aspects of their struggles. His Namibian counterpart said for too long Africans have allowed the outside media to paint bleak pictures of civil war, devastation, suffering and corruption while ignoring the successes made by the continent. According to Ndaitwah, African leaders have been criticized and harassed by the western media. She stressed that it was high time that the African media make their voices heard on the international arena. There is a need to tell the African story from a positive perspective to counter the negative picture that has been painted and show that Africa is a continent of hope with able leaders. Jokonya, who is accompanied by his Permanent Secretary and President Mugabe’ Spokesperson George Charamba, will pay a courtesy call on President Hifikepunye Pohamba and former President Sam Nujoma during their stay here. Today, the two ministers will officially open the Southern Times offices in Windhoek. On Saturday, the delegation will accompany Ndaitwah to Oshakati, where they will pay a visit to the NBC studios and Oukwanyama palace. The Zimbabwean delegation leaves Namibia on Sunday afternoon.
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