PDM raises concerns over editor’s suspension

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Maximalliant Katjimune, a Member of Parliament from the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), has voiced concerns over the recent suspension of Jonathan Beukes, the Managing Editor of New Era Newspaper.

The suspension, which took place last Friday, has sparked debates about potential government encroachment on press freedom, particularly with Namibia on the cusp of an important election year.

Christof Maletsky, the Chief Executive Officer of New Era Newspaper, acknowledged the suspension. However, he mentioned that the situation is internal and refrained from sharing further details.

Nevertheless, during parliamentary sessions yesterday, Katjimune aimed to probe the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Peya Mushelenga, for answers.

He aspires to raise various queries about the recent happenings at the state-funded New Era and its potential ramifications on press freedom and democratic principles.

“We are observing apparent overreach into New Era’s editorial direction by the government, seemingly endorsed by the Minister and Executive Director. It seems the government wishes to restrict a publicly-funded newspaper, especially with a significant election year looming. Press freedom underpins any flourishing democracy, enabling free dialogue, unfettered information sharing, and vibrant public debates,” Katjimune said.

Katjimune also intends to question Mushelenga on whether Beukes’ suspension implies that the Judiciary is exempt from public examination.

Nonetheless, the Ministry has opted to maintain a distance from the situation, emphasizing its non-interference in the newspaper’s internal operations.

Elizabeth Kamutuezu, Acting Executive Director at the ministry, firmly reiterated this stance.

“MICT refrains from meddling in NEPC’s internal dynamics. The public enterprise’s operations are overseen by NEPC’s board of directors and its management.

It’s imperative to recognize that neither the minister nor the executive director intrude on NEPC’s daily functions. Also, established processes, systems, and procedures are in place, with specific authorities wielding these powers.

Hence, the ministry won’t be embroiled in NEPC’s operational challenges,” she stated.

MICT also underscored Namibia’s dedication to upholding media freedom, emphasizing that the nation’s media establishments abide by a self-regulation code of ethics, overseen by the Editors Forum of Namibia.

Earlier in the week, Job Amupanda, the head of the Affirmative Repositioning Movement, insinuated political motivations behind Beukes’ suspension.

He speculated that the action was taken because Beukes chose to uphold media ethics rather than support what he viewed as a corrupt administration.

Furthermore, the Namibia Media Professionals’ Union (NAMPU) has expressed their disapproval of Beukes’ suspension, pointing out the broader implications for press freedom and journalistic autonomy.

Jemima Beukes, NAMPU Acting Secretary-General, emphasized the pivotal role journalists play in democratic settings and called for an acknowledgement of media professionals’ right to report freely and independently.

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