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Concerned journalists accuse President’s Press Secretary of stifling them

Concerned journalists accuse President’s Press Secretary of stifling them

The Office of the President cancelled a meeting with a group of concerned journalist at the last-minute earlier this week, citing reasons which the journalists say are not true.

The meeting was scheduled for 7 October at 10:00 and the Office of the President cancelled on 6 October just before 20:00.

Charmaine Ngatjiheue, a journalist at the Namibian said, on behalf of the concerned journalists, that it is regrettable that the highest office in the country did not see it fit to notify the group about its sudden change of mind before sending out a press release, but chose to do it in a public manner.

“Frankly, it is a missed opportunity, because, the meeting was set to discuss the challenges faced by the media in covering the Office of the President, how the office can improve on the media front and ways to improve our relationship, which is getting worse every time the press secretary is involved,” she explained.

She accepted that it is within the president’s rights to cancel meetings because he has other national obligation, therefore we are still open to being part of this important meeting. She further stated that the Office of the President and the journalist were in constant communication and there is proof that they informed the Presidency that only 10 of them would be present during the meeting. “We would like to state that there was no agreement to send 56 people to State House, but rather a delegation, therefore, Press Secretary Dr Alfredo Hengari’s statement was misleading and shows why the president should call him to order,” she added.

She said the group had also requested the Presidency to consider digital options such as Zoom to include those who were not part of the 10. According to Ngatjiheue, a liaison at the Presidency committed to consult the authorities on this and revert back.

“We were only informed at 16:00 on 6 October to consult with Dr. Hengari, knowing full well that setting up such a platform required a lot of effort to ensure that everyone is included. Bear in mind [that] the meeting was supposed to be the next day, but we are looking forward and ready to meet the President and forge a positive way forward and hold hands,” she emphasised.

She stated that as journalists they are always willing to engage with the Presidency, therefore, the concerns raised in their previous letter to the president remain up to date and the genuine point of the meeting was to deal with any issues once and for all and to carve a way forward, because the longer this impasses continues, the more the nation’s right to be informed will be hit.


About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and is working on her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). She believes education is the greatest equalizer. She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.