Journalists’ conduct in House gallery is unauthorised – statement by the Speaker
Response to media reports and the Editors’ Forum of Namibia statement about the Speaker’s expression of concern regarding misconduct by some journalists covering Parliament
The Editors Forum of Namibia statement dated 24 September 2018 and subsequent media reports have missed the point and blown things out of context.
The Hon Speaker did not issue any threat to the media. He made a pronouncement in relation to some media correspondents who engage in unethical behaviour by zooming in on the private devices of Members of Parliament from the gallery while the House is in session.
This is unauthorised and is in breach of the House’s Standing Rules and Orders and good parliamentary procedures and practices.
The Minutes of the Proceedings of the National Assembly on 20 September 2018 record the intervention by the Speaker as follows:
“the Speaker reiterated his concern that it is a misconduct for any journalist upstairs in the lobby to zoom into the electronic gadget of any Parliamentarian seated on the floor of the House. He warned that from the power vested in him from Rule 130 and Rule 131, particularly Rule 131(d) of the Standing Rules and Orders, is to dismiss any stranger from the House who behaves in an unethical manner.”
Journalists are visitors to the National Assembly and must abide by the Rules of the House. It is an accepted norm that when one breaks the Rules of the House a warning is issued to deter such behaviour from being repeated. The Hon Speaker’s intervention was made in that context.
As someone with vast experience of liaising with the media during Namibia’s liberation struggle, the Hon Speaker fully understands the rights of the media, and the role it plays in the development of our country. Journalists who uphold ethical standards have nothing to fear from the National Assembly.
We have always upheld our motto of ‘The Open Door policy’, which encapsulates the provision of timely information to all stakeholders including the media, and access to Parliament by the public at large. In the same vein, we urge our stakeholders to respect and value our Rules as explained in the Standing Rules and Orders of the House and the Parliamentary procedures and practices that are in place.
Let us concentrate on matters that will take the country forward.
Hon Prof Peter Katjavivi
Speaker: National Assembly
8 October 2018