Namibia govt rubbishes social media monitoring claims

Namibia govt rubbishes social media monitoring claims

Ministry of ICT brands messages detailing a plan by authorities to monitor and record communication over social media as 'fake news'.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in Namibia has refuted allegations communicated in WhatsApp messages and on other social media platforms that the Namibian government will introduce a new regulation that will allow it to monitor communication platforms, including people's mobile phones .

In a statement issued by MICT, Acting Permanent Secretary Roselia Penda said the government has not passed any such regulation and is not in possession of a system that has links to the public cell phones, nor does it monitor phone calls and social media activities of citizens.

Penda is quoted as saying, "It should be noted that the WhatsApp message currently circulating that indicates all calls are being recorded, and that social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms are being monitored is in fact 'fake news'. MICT is therefore urging the public to be cautious of such messages as they are being created and circulated by people whose agenda is to create fear and destabilise peace among the public. As a ministry charged with Government information dissemination, MICT will always ensure that information is communicated to the public in an official manner through all communication platforms."

"The public is further cautioned to avoid using social media platforms as a battle ground for political character assassination, discrimination, racism, sexism, tribalism and any other evil deeds to destabilise the peace and stability of the Namibian House. We have only one common heritage which we guard jealously, and that is Namibia. Let us not play with the name and image of our country," she added.

Display of currency on social media illegal

Penda's statement comes just over a month after The Bank of Namibia cautioned against what it says is the illegal display of images and videos of the Namibian currency on social media by some members of the public.

Kazembire Zemburuka, Deputy Director for Corporate Communications at the Bank of Namibia said at the time that Section 25 of the Bank of Namibia Act prohibits the copying, depiction, replication or the simulation of any part or the whole of the visual image, contents or appearance of the Namibian currency.

"This extends to illustrations, paintings, pictures, graphics, physical objects, electronic images, and cinematography and through the use of any material or print or electronic media, such as the Internet (social media). The Bank is, therefore, requesting members of the public that have illegally reproduced images of the Namibian currency and displayed them on social media, electronic or print media, to delete them within seven working days from their accounts. Failure to adhere to this request will leave the Bank with no choice but to take appropriate action against the offenders as prescribed by the law.

No news of formal charges or a conviction have been reported, although Zemburuka advised that the penalty of a fine not exceeding N$100,000.00 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years, or both could be issued against offenders

"The public is reminded that the Bank of Namibia is the sole institution mandated by the Act to produce and issue Namibian currency. It thus remains the primary objective of the Bank to protect and ensure the stability, image and integrity of the national currency so as to maintain public confidence." concluded Zemburuka.