Lusaka, 02 May 2018: As we commemorate World Press Freedom Day (WPFD), Panos Institute Southern Africa is calling for increased support for the media in Southern Africa to effectively speak truth to power and provide platforms for citizens to hold leaders to account.
This year’s WPFD is being commemorated under the theme Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law. This theme presents a challenge to the media to position itself to promote accountability and transparency in management of public resources, as well as advancing justice and the rule of law in Southern Africa.
Panos works with the media as a strong pillar upon which citizens can stand as they drive Southern Africa’s development agenda. A strong media sector presents a strong platform for citizens to freely express themselves and actively engage with decision makers. However, in Southern Africa the media sector still faces a lot of political, economic and legal restrictions which make it difficult for it to meaningfully play its role of amplifying citizens’ voices and advancing justice and the rule of law. When the media is weak or not free, citizens’ ability to keep power in check is also weakened or compromised.
Panos also appeals for support to develop the capacity of media to churn out content in a manner that will promoting accountability and transparency, and advance justice and the rule of law. The limited technical and financial capacity of most media actors in the region puts them in a compromised position. In its Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2021, one of Panos’ priorities is to increase the capacity of media practitioners and media bodies in highlighting and influencing the use of evidence to champion demand for accountability of decision makers.
We have no doubt that a strong and free media sector will contribute to accountable and transparent development processes in Southern Africa, where justice and the rule of law are upheld.
Lilian Saka Kiefer
Executive Director, Panos Institute Southern Africa,