Is government becoming intolerant of criticism? … The case of IPPR, Kameeta and Klazen over Afrobarometer Survey
Critical surveys and reports putting government on the spotlight continue to worsen relations between the country’s leading think tank, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the ruling Swapo Party’s political big wigs.
A recent Afrobarometer report has this time around irked the poverty eradication minister, Zephania Kameeta and urban/rural development deputy minister Derek Klazen who have watered it down as “an agenda to turn the people of this country against the government, and for the citizens not to work with the government in place.”
Klazen has also been quoted as saying: “Who sent them, and where are they coming from? They just want to pump lies into the people of this country, and discourage the good work the government is doing.”
The latest fight over the report also comes shortly after trade minister Tjekero Tweya also gave the think tank a tongue-lashing for its information access report that suggested that government was not keen to share public information.
Once again IPPR has come out to defend the Afrobarometer findings saying, “The aim of the Afrobarometer survey is to find out what ordinary Namibian citizens think about a range of political and economic issues.”
“On some issues, Namibians are critical of government performance – as with poverty, where a majority of Namibians say that government has not done enough to fight poverty.”
IPPR added that when the Afrobarometer survey finds that Namibians are critical of government, it does not mean that Afrobarometer as an organisation or the IPPR as the local partner is condemning government.
“Rather, the Afrobarometer survey reflects what ordinary Namibians think about these issues. As can be seen from the figure below, respondents to the survey were negative about some aspects of government's performance and positive about others,” said the think tank.
IPPR said it is incorrect to portray the survey as simply having negative findings about government at a time when previously, the IPPR publicised those issues on which Namibians praised government.
“For example, we previously reported that Namibians have very high levels of trust in the President – some of the highest levels on the continent, in fact. Such parts of the survey did not draw accusations of a hidden agenda from government ministers.
IPPR has also questioned Klazen for making critical comments about the report later and failed to do so at its launch where he also spoke.
“The Deputy Minister suggested that because Afrobarometer interviewed only a subset of the population our results are not representative of the nation as a whole. This is a common misconception about polling and it is not an accurate description of our work.”
“In fact, we are confident that our results represent the opinions of voting-age Namibians to a high degree of confidence (95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/-3 percent). The methodology which Afrobarometer uses is based on best statistical practices and has been used successfully around the world. The Afrobarometer has been recognised as a gold standard in Africa and across the globe,” it said.