In a surprise revelation that was made at the launch of the ACCESS DENIED: Access to information in Namibia report this week, it came to light that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are among the least transparent organisations in Namibia.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) study, which was conducted over the period of one year revealed that CSOs in Namibia are generally not very forthcoming in response to requests for information. Government entities and the private sector organisations approached by researchers, were also found to be secretive about even basic information with regard to their daily operations.

Civil society organisations, which advocate for human rights, had an astounding 60% non-response rate to information requests from the public. The non-response rate from government entities, which are the custodians of public information, was also put at a worrying 60%. Surprisingly, the private sector, which is generally expected to not share much information, had a slightly lower non-response rate of 53%.

Access to information (ATI) is still perceived to be a problem for the media to do its job of informing the public, First Secretary at the Australian High Commission in South Africa Mr. David Eggleston, said that ATI “is an enabling tool for the delivery of more efficient and effective services and helps protect human rights”.

With corruption being one of the major causes of people being deprived of their human rights in Namibia, The Executive Director of IPPR Mr. Graham Hopwood, said that this evil thrives in an environment of secrecy and that Access to information plays a very crucial role in preventing its spread.

The ACTION Namibia Coalition (a group of CSO’s advocating for ATI in Namibia), has been pushing for the promulgation of a progressive ATI law. The Chairperson of ACTION, Frederico Links, stated that there is currently no Access to Information law. However, a draft bill, which was crafted with the help of CSOs, is currently on the government agenda

The overall results of the IPPR/ACTION report show that worryingly, government, CSOs and private sector are not responsive to public requests to information. If the issue is not addressed through a well-crafted law and implementation strategy, this lack of transparency and accountability could hinder Namibia’s quest for prosperity in the long term.

The full report is available for download here.

  • The IPPR is a member of the ACTION Namibia Coalition