Policy on social media to be tabled soon

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Albertina Nakale

Windhoek-The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, has announced that Cabinet has approved the government social media use policy as a public working document, which is to provide for unified and standardized ways of using social media by the government.

Tweya, who made the announcement during a media briefing on Cabinet decisions yesterday, said the new policy aims to ensure public information reaches all Namibian citizens through social media platforms.

Tweya noted that times have changed and concerns raised about government on social media such as Facebook can no longer be ignored, adding that public officials must respond to such issues.

“Twenty years ago we did not have Facebook. As the President (Hage Geingob) has made it clear in the Harambee Prosperity Plan – as government we must respond to the needs of people. Policies must be reviewed to realign with new realities. And these new realities are technology,” he said.

He added that social media is a tool being used to communicate whereby people share ideas while learning new developments.
According to him, to think that using Facebook, Instagram and Tweeter cannot be used in government is naïve.

He said such social media platforms increase transparency and improve governance.
All government offices, ministries, agencies, and regional councils and local authorities, should implement the government social media use policy, he added.

Tweya said Cabinet authorized him to table the policy in the National Assembly for adoption. Asked when he would table the policy, Tweya said he intended to do so the latest by June.

Further, he said Cabinet also endorsed the government communication plan as a public working document to provide information to the public as a means of creating an open and transparent government.

Equally, he said, Cabinet directed that all government offices, agencies and ministries as well as regional councils and local authorities implement the government communication plan.

He said he would also table the plan in the National Assembly latest by June.
“This communication plan to make information accessible to all citizens is an obligatory requirement. For example, Hardap Regional Council makes decisions and the decisions remain in the chamber but this information is meant to improve the lives of citizens. You will never hear about these decisions unless through something sensational that there was this corrupt something. What these two documents are saying is once these decisions are made, the citizens have the right to know,” he explained.

However, he refused to make public the two documents, saying he has to table them first in parliament.

He also cautioned public relations officers to make information available, adding that their positions were created for that purpose.

“Currently the information remains on the computers. It’s going to be an obligatory requirement that once the decision has been made, these public relations officers must make the information available. They are being paid to make that information available. It’s their job to take concerns from decision-makers to the people. There must be a free flow of information,” he stressed.

He said anyone who wishes to get contact details of all three branches of the state can access such information on the ministry’s website.

Tweya urged all government agencies and ministries to have their websites updated.
He also cautioned media houses to focus more on positive stories than writing negative and non-factual articles because the public consume such information.

He furthermore urged journalists to be more analytical when reporting, especially on the national budget, saying reporters should acquaint themselves with issues so that they don’t mislead the nation.

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