Minister Warns Observer Editor

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK A senior Government minister has warned the editor of one of the local newspapers against publishing inflammatory letters whose content she says insults national leaders and could divide the nation. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah warned Hannes Smith, the editor of the Windhoek Observer in a statement issued on Monday that letters targeting the Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma, with ridicule and insults, were unacceptable. “The last of such letters appeared in the Windhoek Observer of May 13, 2006 under the pseudonym: ‘A true daughter of the Namibian soil’,” she stated. The minister said she viewed the letters as insulting, adding that the Constitution of Namibia, which guarantees the freedom of speech and expression including the freedom of the media, resulted from the protracted liberation struggle led by Nujoma. “The Government of Namibia condemns those letters … the Founding father of the Namibian nation … has won national and international admiration and respect and is a hero of the Namibian revolution due to the commendable work he has done for Namibia during the war of liberation.” Last year, Ndaitwah had a meeting with Smith. According to Ndaitwah, she informed Smith about the dangers of publishing insulting and hate articles. Smith offered to publish an apology but he apparently failed to do so. “It is highly disappointing and unacceptable for Mr Smith to keep on abusing the Namibian Constitution,” stated the Information Minister. Such articles, the minister says, are compromising national security, public order, decency and morality. She appealed to Smith “to stop writing those letters. The nation is seeing you in a different context, which is not compatible with your age and profession”. Approached by New era Smith commented, “There are lies in this release, the lies that I would publish an apology. I have had enough of these lies. I am just questioning certain practices…”