INFORMANTE - THE RIGHT TO KNOW vs KNOWING WHAT'S RIGHT
- by: Justice Namibia
- target: Minister of Information and Communication Technology
01/09/2008 - PETITIONSign Petition
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
"You conceal, We reveal"
THE RIGHT TO KNOW vs KNOWING WHAT'S RIGHT!
We the undersigned people of the Republic of Namibia petition the Honourable Minister of Information and Communication Technology to:
1. Urge Informanté newspapers to cease reporting opinion and untruth as fact.
2. To start reporting actual facts rather than rumors and embellishments of facts.
In addition we herein:
1. Draw the Hon. Ministers%u2019 attention to blatant violation of specific human rights being perpetrated by the Informanté newspaper.
2. Draw the Hon. Ministers%u2019 attention to the grossly destructive impact that such violations have on our social structure and individual reputations.
3. Request the Hon. Minister to promulgate effective legislation or regulations that makes tabloid newspapers like Informanté accountable to the public they serve and to produce empirical, fact-based information for public consumption consistent with standards for conventional media.
4. To revoke the publishing license of Informanté newspaper pending the enactment of such legislation or regulations on the basis of its gross and persistent publishing of untruths as fact and violation of citizens%u2019 right to privacy among others enumerated hereunder.
Informanté is a widely circulated Namibian newspaper reaching close to fifteen percent of the Namibian population. Readers turn to it for facts in civil, criminal and social issues. Yet a multitude of unfounded rumors and opinions litter almost all major articles rather than the actual facts.
Infomanté also taints public opinion by reporting opinion and conjecture as if it is factual. This is both dishonest and can be categorized as malicious untruths (malicious misinformation).
This is an ongoing issue that needs to stop immediately. Even from a sensational tabloid, Namibian citizens have a right to the truth.
Right to Privacy
Every Namibian citizen has an inalienable right to privacy. Informanté newspaper persists in violating fundamental human rights of Namibian citizens under the pretext of freedom of speech. The fact that the Informanté newspapers commonly portrays unsuspecting citizens in a false light in the public eye raises an ethical challenge for media practitioners and a profound moral dilemma for the larger society. Naturally, it is an important national requirement to protect the right to freedom of expression and the right of the media to publish material of public interest.
Informanté%u2019s approach to reporting however has intensified tensions between these rights and the individuals%u2019 right to privacy.
What appears to be innocently erratic and unrelated tabloid rhetoric in the form of character assassination, discrediting of personalities and defamatory articles (shrouded under the omnipresent umbrella of freedom of expression for public benefit) leveled against seemingly arbitrary individuals is now being seen in the new light of a consciously calculated programmed agenda by the principal owner of Informanté to weaken and destabilize our government and social structure.
Sadly, governmental dawdling permits the public emaciation and reputational ruin of highly educated and skilled black sons and daughters of the soil who could otherwise continue to contribute meaningfully to the national development. Intervention, regulation and possible remedies may all be too little too late if this trend of irresponsible and unaccountable reporting is allowed to continue unabated.
Unjustifiable Breach of Your Privacy by Informanté
In practical terms, it is difficult to control the excesses of tabloid media and shameless breeches of individuals%u2019 right to privacy have been allowed to go without legal or social remedy. The issue affects us all regardless of whether we are public officials or private citizens.
Responsible Reporting and the Ethical Development of News
Inter alia, information and images related to women and children, suicide, rape, confidential financial data and personal health require sensitive and responsible reporting. Tabloid ethics dictate that the truth is sensationalized in order to entertain while informing the readership. It is not to print lies, opinion and rumor along with a miniscule smattering of fact.
With shameless disregard for international convention, local law or your individual rights major parts of Informanté%u2019s corpus of work is false.
Heavily dependent on deniability rather than on authenticated sources, the tabloid mentality prefers to entertain its readership rather than rely on the conventions of news reporting. Informanté follows this pattern by attempting to entertain it%u2019s readership rather than provide empirical information.
Libel and Defamation
Beyond substandard and hollow attempts to scandalize and sensationalize news stories focused primarily on black Namibian individuals, the Informanté persistently publishes blatantly defamatory articles. Informanté uses devices of misinformation, distorted fact, outright untruth alongside minimal fact among other tabloid machinations to undeservedly discredit to our fellow country-people.
The Race Factor
To claim that Informanté is a racist organization would be largely incorrect. However, their methods and strategies are strongly reminiscent of pre-independent racial compartmentalization. Their insidious editorial policy becomes clearly evident by examining cover page content and photographs from random editions of their paper side by side. The repeated portrayal of black Namibians as incompetent, unfit to govern, inadequate as businesspersons and dishonest is implied racial discrimination.
Unjust and prejudicial distinctions that consistently depicts every variation across the spectrum of genus africanus (read black Namibian people), black corporate CEO%u2019s, black politicians, black businesspersons to the average black Johannes on the street, Informanté has positioned itself as a socially divisive instrument. For the appearance of normality and balance, a few white persona non grata are sprinkled lightly across their pages every few months.
In other words, omitting to depict white individuals (German or Afrikaaner) as equally incompetent, unfit to govern, inadequate as businesspersons and dishonest etc. belies an unstated higher political agenda to destabilize and discredit many highly influential and in many cases well positioned and important black Namibians. We must remember that our constitution prohibits discrimination of every variety, explicit or implied.
Not ironically, it should never be taken lightly that the Informanté readership is almost exclusively comprised of lower income black individuals. In equal measure, their current editor is a less significant %u2018vambo%u2019 (oshivambo person). How reminiscent of the days when the white Koevoet killing machine used the same %u2018vambos%u2019 to infiltrate and destabilize and kill liberation efforts. How quickly we forget certain salient lessons of life as illustrated hereundder:
%u201CThe unit (Koevoet) numbered only 300 (white) South Africans, backed by co-opted native (black) Namibians, but managed to kill more than 10 times as many members of Swapo.%u201D
%u201CThe statistics are proudly emblazoned on the labels of wine bottles emptied at the reunion -- 3861 Swapo were killed compared with 153 Koevoet members who died in action.%u201D
%u201CBut in an interview with the Cape Times, former Koevoet members said they were brainwashed by the apartheid rulers to believe that Swapo, like the then-banned African National Congress, posed a terrorist threat.%u201D
%u201CThey told us we were fighting the swart gevaar (black danger %u2026.. But now Swapo and the ANC have the most democratic constitutions in the world)%u201D
%u201CThe main purpose of the reunion, he said, was for the "men to relax over a few drinks and to talk about old times"
"The whole thing was one big success we are proud of. We shot and they shot and we shot better. We don't apologise for it, not one bit."
Quoted from: http://www.dispatch.co.za/2000/09/28/features/KOEVOET.HTM
Essential Reference and Contacts:
Newspaper registration: 06/01/119
Publisher: Trustco Group International
Printers: Free Press Printers, Windhoek
260 000 copies distributed monthly to all major Namibian centres
Headquarters: Trustco North, Corner of Uhland Street and Robert Mugabe Ave, Windhoek
Tel. 061 275 4000
Fax. 061 275 4090
Editor in Chief: Max Hamata