fesmedia Africa hosted a partners` networking meeting on the 11th of February 2022 in Windhoek to discuss cooperation in media politics and media development in Southern Africa. The meeting was held at the backdrop of a one day partnership meeting with representatives of Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Regional Office in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The event included three representatives of MISA; Mr. Selous Nyasha Chishamiso Nyakunu - Programmes Coordinator, Mr. Nqaba Matshazi - Regional and Fundraising Programmes Officer, and Mr. Malvern Muchineripi Mkudu - Programmes Officer Advocacy and Monitoring and Evaluation. From Namibia, Mr. John Nakuta - Media Ombudsman, , Chaggan Etokabeka – French Interpreter, Jessica Uiras - Public Relations Officer at the Namibia Media Trust, Robin Tyson – Media Consultant as well as journalists Jemima Beukes, Sakeus Ikela, and Tileni Monghudi. Ange Agbla, the winner of the fesmedia Africa Radio Drama Script Competition from Benin was part of the meeting.
Ms. Freya Gruenhagen, Resident Director of fesmedia Africa welcomed the partners to the occasion and provided an opportunity for them to share their views and motivations when it comes issues related to media and access to information.
Most of the partners pointed out that journalists are the drivers of democracy, they provide citizens with the information they need to take part in democratic processes. However, they are experiencing many challenges.
Mr. John Nakuta - urged journalist to verify their information before publishing it and further encouraged journalist to abide by the guidelines provided in the Code of Ethics and Conduct for journalists to be accountable, accurate and ethical in their reporting.
Mr. Nqaba Matshazi, a former journalist, shared some of the challenges faced by journalists such as being arrested and charged under criminal defamation laws. His views were shared by Tileni Monghudi, an investigative journalist, who said that criminal defamation laws prevent public participation and prevent journalists from speaking out.
Ms. Freya Gruenhagen reiterated that free media allows citizen participation in the decision-making processes of a country and that can be in the form of equal opportunities and social justice.
Furthermore, Sakeus Ikela, a political journalist at The Namibian newspaper and Secretary-General of Namibia Media Professionals Union (Nampu) founded in 2020, said the purpose of the union is to address issues affecting journalists in the newsroom such as underpayment of journalists. Ikela says the union is “here to stay and serve the interests of journalists.” He further urged journalist unions to shift their focus on the treatment of journalists in newsrooms.
Jemima Beukes, a journalist at the Namibian Sun and co-founder of Women in the Media, stressed that editors should be more aware of the struggles that journalists experience in the office. She further emphasized the need for the voice of women in the media.
Emphasising the need for inclusive communication and access to information, Dickson Kasote, Programme Manager at fesmedia Africa called for the inclusion of marginalized communities, especially those with disabilities. Mr. Kasote said there is need to advocate for “meaningful connectivity, participation and access to the internet for marginalized communities.” He further called for efforts to strengthen all media as drivers of access to information.
Another central point which was discussed was the protection of journalists to enable them to fulfil their role as disseminators of information without interference.