ONE year on from a painful crash, Max Verstappen returns to Silverstone as clear favourite to register his first British Grand Prix win and increase his lead in the title race.
STAKEHOLDERS have lauded Namibia's parliament for passing the access to information bill, which sailed through the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday.
Media and political analysts termed the move a historic milestone for the country's maturing democracy.
The bill promotes free access to information held by public entities, and also compels public and private entities to proactively and promptly make information available.
The law would also punish public entities for providing incorrect, incomplete or misleading information.
Namibia Media Trust (NMT) director Zoe Titus yesterday said when the trust started campaigning for an access to information law, it was with the understanding that it is critical to the media, as it would improve the conditions under which journalists work.
She said access to information is, however, important to all citizens, and that it is the role of the media to disseminate such to citizens.
The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the need for such a law as it was accompanied by misinformation, inaccurate information, and disinformation, while clear, credible information and communication was required to calm anxiety, engender trust, reduce animosity, and limit polarisation, Titus said.
The objective of NMT is to further the principles of press freedom and freedom of expression, as well as access to information, the promotion of media ethics and professionalism, as well as the promotion of media literacy.
It also aims to build the capacity of journalists and media professionals.
“This is a very important piece of legislation we have been waiting for for a long time. It will definitely make a difference to how well informed society is to make decisions for themselves as the law compells government offices, ministries and agencies to provide information,” Titus said.
The Editors' Forum of Namibia (EFN) and NMT have gained the support of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to provide training for specific groups on the bill once it is passed.
Last week the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) at Unesco approved a submission supporting access-to-information and transparency training for journalists, media managers and government information and public relations officers.
IPDC bureau rapporteur Peter Denk said the project seeks to equip Namibian journalists in various sectors with the necessary understanding of the access to information law to help them execute their role as custodians of democracy.
“These projects are in line with the IPDC's long-standing attention to the safety of journalists, gender equality, journalism education and capacity building, and they were approved at the IPDC's annual bureau meeting at Unesco's headquarters in Paris on Thursday,” he said.
EFN chairperson Frank Steffen said now that the bill has been passed by the parliament, the training aspect is hugely important as the act entitles everybody access to public and private business information.
“We need to understand that Namibia does not only have a public sector that is used to playing its cards close to the chest, but also quite a number of enterprises in the private sector that will in future see themselves forced to answer truthfully and completely when questions raised are a simple matter of transparency. For example matters that do not infringe on the right to keep business secrets,” he said.
Institute for Public Policy and Research director Graham Hopwood has described the passing of the bill as historic.
“Speaking from the Action Coalition of Namibia and the work that was done in the past 12 months, we are very happy. Of course the bill still needs to go to the National Council, but we urge them to move with speed and implement the act as a law,” he said.