Current track



Editors tell fraudster to respect press freedom

Written by on May 5, 2024

The Editors Forum of Namibia (EFN) says the African Energy Chamber’s (AEC) recent attack against The Namibian amplifies concerns raised by the media and civil society about how oil and gas discoveries in Namibia might impact politics, free media and the country’s social structures.

The AEC issued a statement on Monday criticising The Namibian for questioning the background of its executive chairman, NJ Ayuk, including his history as a convicted fraudster and his dubious dealings in the oil and gas sector.

EFN chairperson Frank Steffen says there are many examples where African countries’ oil and gas industries have led to corruption and political unrest.

“It is a question of time, before the free press is reined in and the people on the ground lose their voice. The AEC seems to be bent on sowing the first discontent in an African country, which has to date been able to lead the way in terms of press freedom,” he says.

Steffen says Namibia is still the leading country in Africa in regards to press freedom, something that has been achieved through partnerships between the Namibian government and media.

“The EFN would like to point out that most newspapers in Namibia – including government-funded media – would differ from the politics of the ruling party from time to time. That is how democracy and the free press are supposed to work,” he says.

“If The Namibian raises questions about how Namibia approaches its engagement in the gas and oil industry and queries the government’s partners of choice, such journalism does not warrant an accusation directed at the paper, accusing it of promoting xenophobic thought processes. It is a simple case of the media ‘holding a government to account’,” he says.

He calls on the government to address this issue, insisting that the AEC apologise and desist from political interference in Namibian society.

On Monday, The Namibian’s managing editor, Tangeni Amupadhi, defended the coverage on Ayuk’s past.

“The least we can do is to keep Namibian government leaders accountable and explain why they choose to work with some characters,” Amupadhi said.

The AEC said conversations between governments and international organisations are private.

“We really do not care about the hit jobs you seek to carry out on your new-found hate figure because we know The Namibian newspaper has an obsessive love affair with the AEC and its leadership,” the AEC said.

A 2019 article in the Mail & Guardian reported that Ayuk was convicted of fraud in the US in 2007 and investigated in Ghana for money laundering in 2015, allegations his spokesperson denied.

Last year, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported that unknown parties have used fake copyright complaints to take down at least five articles about Ayuk and Gabriel Lima, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president and its new minister of finance.

The post Editors tell fraudster to respect press freedom appeared first on The Namibian.

Current track