The National Council of Namibia is the most open public institution in 2015 and the recipient of the Golden Key award. This is a significant improvement, as it was the second most secretive institution in 2014.
The Council scored 30. It was open and eager to assist the researcher. The Ministry of Industrial Trade and SME Development is the second most open public institution with a score of 25.
The Ministry of Youth, National Service and Sport is the most secretive public institution in Namibia for 2015 and the recipient of the Golden Padlock award, having scored 10. The Ministry of International Relations and Corporation is the second most secretive institution with a score of 11.
MISA said that the performance of a public institution with regard to access to information is dependent on the individual or the lack of an individual responsible for public relations. Adding that government institutions have to recognise the importance of ensuring that there is an employee or employees dedicated to engaging with the public and the media, and that this office upholds professional standards.
Conducted from 01 to 27 July 2015, the study focused on eight ministries and parastatals with the aim of assessing the degree to which they are accessible and responsive to the public’s demand for information. It indicates how transparent each ministry is by using prescribed tools to measure the level of responsiveness for each chosen ministry within a given period.
The results of the study will continue to inform MISA Namibia’s campaign for legislation on access to information and a media policy because access to information is essential for the realisation of the basic human rights and underpins all other rights.
“It is however important for freedom of expression activists to enhance our advocacy efforts in regard to access to information as a fundamental human right. Ordinary citizens need to understand that they need information for them to make informed choices about their lives.”said MISA.
Despite Namibia not having any access to information law in the pipeline, government has been developing laws that focus on the protection of information and the surveillance of citizens instead, noted MISA Namibia. MISA Nam said they sincerely hope that the law-making process will henceforth place more importance on public views and other stakeholders, in particular civil society, and strike a balance between national security and civil liberties.