Namibian official criticises Zimbabwean Journalist

Windhoek- Namibia (PANA) -- A Namibian government official has launched a scathing attack against a Zimbabwean journalist who reportedly described President Sam Nujoma as Zimbabwean President Robert "Mugabe's new Permanent Secretary for Regional Affairs.
" News Editor of the Zimbabwean weekly Financial Gazette newspaper, Basildon Peta, is accused of publishing a critical article on Nujoma after the 10th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration, marked 3-5 May.
The celebration, which was jointly sponsored by UNESCO and the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA), was followed by a three-day conference attended by more than 300 African journalists and media policy analysts from around the world.
In his article following his brief stay in Namibia, Peta was quoted as reporting that ordinary Namibians feared that Nujoma was taking on Mugabe's traits by "illegally (changing) the Namibian constitution to serve a third term of office.
" The article also accused the Namibian leader of having "snubbed hundreds of international delegates by turning down an invitation to address the UN-sponsored gathering.
This was a reference to a media conference, where Mugabe was scheduled to appear, but decided to delegate his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, Theo-Ben Gurirab.
Reacting to the article, a government spokesman said the Zimbabwean journalist "must have obtained the defamatory information by hanging out in bottle stores.
in order to discredit the Namibian head of State.
The official said in a statement that the article was "a shining example of malicious and subjective reporting to which Namibia will obviously react in the strongest words.
" "President Nujoma is an intelligent and respected leader who does not need to emulate any other leader and who certainly does not deserve to be called Mugabe's Permanent Secretary for Regional Affairs," the spokesman said.
He explained that the changing of the constitution by the ruling SWAPO government followed demands by the majority of Namibians for their leader to serve another term of office.
"This was done legally through Article 132 of the very constitution, which allowed that the first President of Namibia may hold office for three terms," the official explained.
Meanwhile, the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA), the region's watchdog for freedom of the press, said Tuesday that the reaction was typical of the Namibian government's "gross interference in the practice of press freedom in this country and region as a whole.
" "We are watching the Namibian situation very carefully because it would appear as though this government is set to react against anything written about Namibia and its leadership, no matter how objective it may be," MISA added in a statement.

29 may 2001 23:20:00

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