The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) congratulates the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) on the successful launch of a media freedom campaign across the continent. The campaign was launched in Midrand, South Africa on Wednesday, 15 May 2013.
MISA welcomes this long-overdue intervention and pledges unwavering support towards the full realisation of all campaign objectives.
Aptly titled ‘Press Freedom for Development and Governance: Need for Reform’, this campaign is a fulfilment of a PAP Resolution – No PAP/P(3)/RES/08(1) – and it comes against the backdrop of the parliamentary body taking full cognisance of the benefits of a free press in society.
Reads part of the PAP rationale for a media freedom campaign: “The right to freedom of the press is one of the most important human rights. It is indeed an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. It is also seen as one of the cornerstones of democracy. Unfortunately, Africa does not fair very well when it comes to press freedom. In many African countries, authorities have little or no tolerance for press freedom. The media legislation which is in place in many African countries is either inherited from the colonial times, or was instituted by former military and civilian dictatorships to clamp down on criticism and dissenting voices.”
In light of the above, PAP is seeking to establish a PAP award on Media Freedom in Africa and also establish a PAP Index on Media Freedom in Africa.
Secondly, the body has called upon the African Union (AU) member states to use the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights’ (ACHPR) Model Law on Access to Information.
Thirdly, PAP has requested development partners to support the implementation of the related Resolutions with assistance and support.
All these objectives are captured in the ‘Midrand Declaration on Press Freedom in Africa’. MISA sincerely hopes that this declaration, informed by other declarations, principles and protocols, will carry its rightful weight and will be respected as a key instrument in advancing media freedom and freedom of expression across Africa.
In this regard, MISA strongly supports the call made by the African Union Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for the PAP to have greater powers. We echo her voice: “PAP must be stronger, offering a greater voice to the people of Africa through universal suffrage, capable of promoting the enactment of relevant policies and laws necessary for growth and development both at national and continental levels…”
MISA reiterates that it is very committed to working closely with the PAP and specifically the Committee on Justice and Human Rights to realise the goals of the media freedom campaign.
Information for editors:
MISA is a non-governmental organisation with members in 11 of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. Officially launched in September 1992, MISA focuses primarily on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media, as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration. MISA seeks ways in which to promote the free flow of information and co-operation between media workers, as a principal means of nurturing democracy and human rights in Africa.
Enquiries: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Private Bag 13386
Tel: +264 61 232975
Fax: +264 61 248016
The Chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC), Sacky Shanghala, has come under fire from some media institutions after his call to host a consultative meeting with political parties and the media to discuss a law to regulate the media in the country.
Shanghala, who proposes Namibia should have a statutory body to regulate how the media should report, has been accused of working on behalf of government and furthering his personal agendas.
An enraged Shanghala on Tuesday afternoon told Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Director Natasha Tibinyane over the phone, that if she felt he was pushing his own agendas, she should expose him.
“What Mr. Shanghala needs to recognise is that this is a democracy, and there needs to be a consultative process, he needs to ensure that he doesn’t overstep his mandate and be honest with his intentions,” Tibinayane said.
She further stated that the major problem she had with the LRDC, was that they were not given ample time to think through the idea, and conduct their own research.
“We were just alerted, and from there were expected in last two weeks to just hop on board, without having studied the issue ourselves properly,” Tibinyane said.
The Misa director remarked that Shanghala with his initial correspondence was not clear about the purpose of the consultative meeting, or even his intentions, but that the letter sent to her office on Tuesday clarified some of the issues.
“The official letter ironed out most issues, and stipulated that we would all meet to look at regulating state media for election purposes, but it also said ‘and then discuss all other issues’, and that set off a warning light for me,” she said.
According to Shanghala, all he wanted from the Misa director was a list of all media institutions- both print and broadcast- that are registered with their organisation in order to invite them to the consultative meeting.
A letter was sent out to all media houses and political parties this week by the LRDC, inviting them to this particular meeting on the 23 May 2013.
The letter primarily addresses the need to regulate state-owned media during elections.
It further states that other reasons such as the regulation of the media generally, in relation to consumers and the public at large are secondary, and can be discussed over a longer term.
When speaking to the Windhoek Observer this week, Shanghala said he wanted to make clear that at the end of the day the buck stops with him and that if after consultation he saw it fit to draft such a bill, he would do so.
“Look, we can’t all be directors here, but I am extending this invitation for everyone involved to come and have their say and I am open to hearing all suggestions,” he concluded.
The chairperson of the Editors Forum of Namibia, Eberhard Hoffman, confirmed that he and other media personnel would be meeting with Shanghala to discuss the various suggestions and proposals on how to go about the issue.
He further stated that LRDC can by all means collect complaints by the public regarding the media, but that they would have to consider these complaints in a greater context.
“I think before looking at the duplication of these institutions, we need to invest our energy into strengthening the existing ones, and we should be weary of requesting government to drive such a project,” he said.
Hoffman also admitted that not all media institutions were where they needed to be, or where the Editors Forum would like to see them, but that these are things that can be addressed through the office of the media ombudsman.
When asked if he thinks Shanghala is merely furthering his own agendas, Hoffman stated that it is not only in Namibia that you find that politicians want to control the flow of information or curb media freedom.
“We can expect these kinds of ambitions from politicians in general, it doesn’t even have to be that Sacky Shanghala is driving this thing alone,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman said he was sticking to his initial position on the matter, and needed his question answered, which was what exactly should be regulated.
This article was written by Diana Ndimbira and is republished courtesy of http://www.observer.com.na/8-latest-news/1497-media-puts-shanghala-on-chopping-block
By Gwen Lister
"Alain Modoux, you are the man behind World Press Freedom Day". With these words, Unesco Director General, Irina Bokova, awarded Modoux with a medal at a ceremony in San Jose, Costa earlier this month, to recognise his work in helping formulate the Windhoek Declaration in 1991.
African journalists remain proud that they broke new ground for the media when this Declaration, adopted in the Namibia's capital on May 3 1991, in turn gave birth to International Press Freedom Day as a result of their work.
The tireless efforts of Modoux, who was at the time Assistant Director General for Communication and Information, ensured participation of a broad spectrum of African journalists at the Windhoek Conference. Among others, efforts on the part of Modoux and then Director General, Frederico Mayor, saw the release from jail of a press freedom stalwart, the late Pius Njawe of Cameroon, to attend the meeting.
The gathering culminated in the adoption of the Windhoek Declaration on a Free, Independent and Pluralistic African Media, which in turn gave birth to similar declarations in other parts of the world, such as the Santiago, Alma Ata, Sofia and Sanaa'a.
Namibia, freed of apartheid occupation after United Nations supervised elections oversaw the country's self-determination culminating in independence in 1990, was chosen as the site for the conference.
At that time southern African journalists were emerging from the strictures of South African colonial domination, and on other parts of the continent, the press were beginning to tire of the autocratic controls of African Governments. The Windhoek Declaration mirrored the desire of African journalists to be free and independent and in 1993 the UN chose May 3, the day of its adoption, as World Press Freedom Day.
"This shows the power of its words. This shows its importance", said Bokova when presenting Modoux with his award, a medal representing a Duho armchair, a masterpiece of Taino art, made by the Arawak Indians of the Greater Antilles.
"Unesco's action to support press freedom under your leadership received international recognition, as well as some of its most significant results, notably in zones of conflict" and "builds today on the foundations you set to enhance the safety of journalists, to strengthen inclusive media development and content", Bokova told Modoux.
A clearly emotional Modoux, receiving the award on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of World Press Freedom Day, paid tribute to his former Director General, Mayor, as well others who followed, and most of all, to African journalists themselves for making the Windhoek Declaration possible.