A NEWSPAPER headline that suggested that he Presidential Commission on Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution briefed President Hage Geingob solely on the sale of the Erindi Private game reserve to a Mexican billionaire was described as “regrettably misleading” by Sate House.
According to a statement issued by Sate House the Presidential Commission on Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution paid a courtesy call on President Geingob on Monday with the objective of providing an update about the activities of the Commission since its appointment on 21 February 2019.
As part of the courtesy call, in which the media sat throughout, a Briefing Note titled “Progress Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Claims of Ancestral Land Rights and Restitution” was shared with President Geingob. Following the courtesy call, and in light with its commitment to transparency, the Presidency shared the Briefing Note with the media immediately.
The Commission informed Dr. Geingob that it had met to date over “five hundred different people across the country, all of whom expressed gratitude to both the President and the Government of the Republic of Namibia for setting up the Commission”.
The Commission also related to President Geingob that it received undertakings of participation from actors that “boycotted the Second National Land Conference such as the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, Nama Traditional Leaders Association, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), Affirmative Repositioning (AR) and National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO)”. In the 10 points Briefing Note of the Commission, the question of Erindi emerges only once, in point 9 (9.3), which is a clear indication that the courtesy call was not about Erindi as the headline seeks to suggest.
“As the basis of citizen trust in governance, the Presidency wishes to underline its commitment to accountability and transparency in its interaction with all actors of Namibian society. For Namibia to be rated as the country with the freest press in Africa is in itself an expression of the President’s commitment to Press Freedom as enunciated in the Windhoek Declaration of 1991. Also, the Presidency is respectful of the right of editorial rooms to write what they like and to invent headlines as part of their editorial license. However, it is disheartening to note the frequency of misleading headlines, whose objective is far from the journalistic principles of objectivity, fairness and provision of the public with reliable and accurate information.”
The statement said that in light of the facts and information availed to the journalist, the Presidency re-emphasizes that the headline, “Ancestral Land Commission debriefs Geingob on Erindi” was regrettably misleading.