The newly appointed board of directors of New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC) has been urged to provide guidance to the organisation for it to fully execute its mandate, which is to disseminate information.
The Minister of Information Communication and Technology, Tjekero Tweya, said the new board members of NEPC must ensure people have unhindered access to information in whatever form or medium. The new board of directors assumed office on December 1, 2016.
The newly appointed board members are Esau Mbako (chairperson), Ileni Gebhardt (vice-chairperson), France Kaundinge (member), Beatrice Kahunda (member) and Cassius Moetie (member).
Cabinet approved the appointment of the board members to serve for a period of three years, with effect of next month until December 1, 2019.
Tweya, who handed over appointment letters to the new board, cautioned that it should not be about money to access information at the expense of the electorate.
Some information, he says, is about government programmes, opportunities and the public is often denied that information because they do not have money.
“If there was an outbreak of a disease in the country, the government is responsible to get this information to all its citizens, and not everyone will have access to it because they don’t network to access it. Some villages could actually be totally wiped out completely because they won’t respond to the call of government for any vaccination because they don’t [have] the money to access the information,” he said.
Tweya noted that those responsible for the governance of institutions, which see to the day-to-day operations responsible for getting and disseminating information, first need to be correct.
“Hence, the new blood, ideas and philosophy. Nothing personal, but you need someone who comes with new ideas,” he said.
He indicated that he has his own assessment as to why he did not retain the old board, but thanked them for leading the organisation.
“Unless I am convinced that out of the old ones they have got the same thinking and understanding about the mandate – will I retain any of them? And if not, I have taken a conscious decision to replace all. I do not apologise. I take full responsibility for that,” he remarked.
He noted that in some cases he appointed a very good board that understands the mandate to lead state-owned enterprises (SOEs) under his ministry but is often undermined by the chief executive officers.
He emphasized that there is a clear distinction between public and private media each with different mandates.
Tweya said public media is to disseminate information and not how quick it will sell for headlines.
He noted private media would talk of free media but to “them they want access to that information to make it more sensational so they can sell their paper”.
“So what happens thereafter if they are not interested? Now this is different from the public media, which is to disseminate that information and not how quick it will sell. Looking at the mandate of that Namibian house, Namibians have expressed themselves 80 percent to give the mandate to Swapo party. They therefore expect whatever is to happen from the government they have elected,” he said.
He mentioned that Namibians also overwhelmingly elected the President into office, and therefore they need to know what their leader is doing.
“He scored 87 percent and that’s more than what the party has scored. Therefore, no matter in which corner of this house they are – they would want to know what this individual president is doing after giving him mandate. Therefore, it cannot just be propaganda for the government. We should report what the President [is doing] to the people who have elected him.
“It’s within that context that you will provide that guidance to our only government newspaper to provide access to information. No matter how boring that information is, it’s not about New Era selling the paper but providing information,” the minister explained.