- Elections in Namibia were a non-event because of the political parties' failure to market themselves because of "laziness", according to a report by several regional civil society groups. The Namibian press thus had very little to report on regarding the upcoming elections.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the Namibian chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the Pretoria-based Media Tenor South Africa issued a tentative report yesterday on how the Namibian media provide coverage on events leading to next week's elections.
Christiaan Keulder of IPPR told a recent media briefing that there was a very low volume of election-related material mainly because political parties were "extremely lazy" with a "general lack of energy and imagination" on how to sell themselves. They don't look after their media profile," Mr Keulder said after monitoring seven newspapers between September 1 and October 21.
He said there was more hype about the recent US elections in Namibia than the country's own voting. Mr Keulder felt that political parties seemed to think that rallies were the most effective way of getting their message across.
- Their approach is more likely to be a passive one, whereby they would expect the media to show and report on their rallies, Mr Keulder said. "None of the leaders seem to cultivate a media profile. [President Sam] Nujoma's dominance is a reflection of the personalised nature of much of Namibian politics. He is still the ruling party's main election asset."
Namibia's ruling Swapo Party issued three times as many statements to the media than the Congress of Democrats, for instance, which was in second place. Mr Keulder said the lack of imagination by parties was reflected by the fact that Monitor Action Group of Kosie Pretorius managed to get more statements in newspapers than the DTA and the United Democratic Front - both represented in Parliament.
Political parties have used several platforms, accusing the media of bias. However, the study found that newspapers covered all political parties with neutrality. For instance, 'The Namibian' showed no bias while even 'Republikein', which has close ties with the opposition DTA and Republican Party, covered all parties with neutrality.
Because of the low coverage of party activities, the report concluded that newspapers were likely to have a minimal impact on existing voting patterns.
The research looked at how the political parties were covered, the type of issues that news organisations reported on, which people are quoted the most in articles and what political parties said about each other.
The monitoring project will run until the end of December. A long-term monitoring programme will be carried out in order to provide a broad picture of how the media cover a range of issues in the country.
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