Namibia's Information and Communication Technology Minister Joel Kaapanda has reiterated Government calls for the establishment of a media council, writes Nangula Shejavali in The Namibian.

Kaapanda made the call yesterday at the launch of the new look of the Windhoek Observer, under new owner Paragon Investment Holdings.

“The Government through my Ministry has and is still advocating that media organisations should establish a code of ethics through the creation of an enabling environment such as the media council,” he said, adding that this is a “crucial time” in which the Namibian media should strive to “create unity and harmony amongst our citizens”.

Early last year, Government announced plans to establish a media council to regulate Namibian media.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) responded by saying that it had no problem with an independent media council, but that a Government council would be in contravention of the declaration of principles on freedom of expression in Africa by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Draft Information Policy, the Windhoek Declaration on Promoting a Free and Independent Pluralistic African Press, the SADC Protocol on Culture, Information and Sport, the African Charter, the Windhoek Declaration and Namibia’s Constitution.

“I appeal to the media to refrain from sensational reporting which may incite violence amongst members of different political formations,” Kaapanda said, stating that a media council would raise ethical standards, enhance the quality of news consumed by the public, and prevent biased reporting.

“Recently there have been reports of some media organisations taken to courts on defamation reports. These scenarios could have been avoided if the media council was in place. The media council is the bridge between the media and aggrieved citizens to seek redress of their complaints,” he said.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Namibian's website.