Nam media should stop being humble

10 May 2017 16:40pm
WINDHOEK, 10 MAY (NAMPA) – Media standards have dropped drastically due to editors doing work merely for the appreciation of those in power, Editor of The Nation magazine in Swaziland, Bheki Makhubu said.
Makhubu said this in an interview with Executive Chairperson of the Namibia Media Trust, Gwen Lister during a belated commemoration of World Press Freedom Day here on Wednesday.
The Day was commemorated under theme ‘Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media's role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies’. It is celebrated on 03 May every year.
Makhubu said the Namibian media, especially editors, should stop being humble by taking phone calls from politicians to be seen as being good, as this is only making them lousy media practitioners.
The editor shared his experience as a journalist who was incarcerated for being in contempt of court and scandalising the judiciary.
He and a colleague were arrested and given a sentence of two years in 2014 and held under maximum security, which the sentencing judge said, “was to act as a deterrent to other journalists”.
They were, however, released by the Supreme Court of Swaziland after appealing the sentence.
Makhubu explained that the Swazi government was trying to control and dictate the terms of the country’s Constitution which caused problems for journalists.
The judiciary had become subjective towards government, he noted.
The Swazi journalist regarded his case as a minor issue because hostility towards the media in some countries had become fashionable.
“Society and leaders are being dismissive of the media and think it is okay and go the extra mile to do so. Leaders do not understand why they are questioned [by the media] because they think leadership is a favour to a country,” he stated.
Lister explained that the situation in Africa goes from a free and democratic environment in Namibia to a number of countries where journalists are constantly in danger or not able to perform their work freely.
According to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index, Namibia currently ranks 24th out of 180 countries, while Swaziland has been ranked 152nd.
She noted that the Namibian media has its issues but the environment in which media practitioners work is primarily free.
“Namibian journalists should not forget journalists working across the continent who do not have the privilege to work in an environment such as ours, and extend a hand of solidarity,” she said.