Misa Urges Responsible Freedom

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) yesterday supported the appeal by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting “for restraint on the side of the public when using the public broadcaster”. In a media release, Misa Namibia National Governing Council Chairperson Christof Maletsky said while people have the freedom to express their views, there are certain responsibilities that go with that freedom. “We would like to urge those who participate in these beacons of freedom of expression to keep to the rules of the programmes and to show respect for their fellow listeners and the public at large.” Maletsky said it is true that with freedom of expression and freedom of the media comes responsibility, not only for media practitioners but also for the public. “Misa Namibia also calls on the moderators of these shows to be fair and be as objective as possible and not to take sides during these phone-in programmes as they are there to serve the nation.” Misa Namibia also appealed to political leaders and their followers to refrain from using the NBC phone-in programmes to make derogatory and inflammatory comments about those who do not share their ideology. “We encourage dialogue among Namibians about issues that affect them and call for freedom of speech and tolerance for diverse viewpoints within the boundaries of decency and mutual respect.” The appeal by Misa comes a day after the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah issued a statement on the same issue. The minister said the government was deeply disturbed that the NBC has of late been allowing the public to abuse its airwaves for vicious and slanderous attacks on individuals, including prominent members of society. “The discussions allowed on the phone-in programmes of the NBC during the past couple of weeks constitute misuse of a national resource that cannot be allowed in the interest of national unity and Namibia’s internal security.” She said the NBC was established to educate, inform and entertain the Namibian public and the phone-in programme discussions over the past couple of weeks definitely did not do justice to the mission statement of the corporation. “The uncensored opinions that have lately been broadcasted have the potential to shatter the country’s existing peace, stability and unity and the government therefore cannot condone the continued abuse of the public airwaves.” The minister called on the NBC board and management to immediately institute measures to regulate the content and discussions of the nation-wide phone-in programmes and to ensure that national airwaves are used for nation building. “The government is also calling for restraint on the side of the public when using the public broadcaster and the government will not allow the fundamental freedoms of speech and expression if such freedoms are abused and have the ability to compromise the prevailing peace, stability and progress that Namibians have enjoyed in our beloved country since independence,” she said.