Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990. Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations. Namibia has a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy and enjoys high political, economic and social stability.
At – a – glance
President: Hage Geingob
Official Language: English, German
Population: 2.4 million (2013)
National Anthem: Namibia, Land of the Brave
Media & Freedom of Expression Landscape in Namibia
The Namibian constitution guarantees free speech, and Namibia’s media generally enjoy an open environment. Although Namibia’s population is fairly small, the country has a diverse choice of media; two TV stations, 19 radio stations (without counting community stations), 5 daily newspapers, several weeklies and special publications compete for the attention of the audience. Many private media outlets and websites are critical of the government. However, governments and political leaders usually issue harsh criticisms or even threats against independent press in response to such write ups. There are also a number of foreign media mostly South African operating in Namibia.
The broadcasting sector is dominated by the state-run Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), which offers a TV station as well as a “National Radio” in English and nine language services in locally spoken languages. According to reports, although the state-owned NBC is able to freely criticize government, there have been increased concerns about excessive government influence over program content and appointment of personnel.
In addition, there have been incidents of journalists and media personnel being intimidated and harassed by state officials. In 2014 for instance, a member of the ruling party forced his way into a radio station and verbally and physically attacked the producer on claims that the producer was a sympathizer of the opposition party.
Morever, freedom of expression is curtailed to some extent since 2009 Communications Act permits the Namibian government to monitor telephone calls, email, and internet usage without a warrant.
Media practitoners and journalists in Namibia are represented by the Namibian chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the Editors’ Forum of Namibia. The media and Journalists are also members of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA). Also, an independent media ombudsman, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), was appointed in 2009 to prevent a state-controlled media council. And finally, there is the Journalists Association of Namibia (JAN) to which journalists are required to belong to.
For more information on the state of FoE in Namibia, kindly visit Freedom House.