Journalists are one of the mechanisms SADC could use to foster regional integration because by the nature of their work they allow can the popular participation of the citizenry in the body’s programmes and projects.
SADC Head of Public Relations Lifa Martin said this during a media briefing at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ) in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday.
“Regional integration will remain a pipe dream unless people of the region determine its content, form and direction, and are themselves its active agent,” Martin said, directly quoting part of section (e) of the 1992 declaration that transformed the Southern African Development Coordinating Committee (SADCC) to SADC.
Malawi first President Hastings Kamuzu Banda signed the declaration on behalf of the people of Malawi on 17th August 1992, in Windhoek, Namibia.
“Journalists should learn to hold people accountable especially those in leadership positions,” Martin said after revelations by most journalists that they was a dearth of information about SADC in their various countries because either by commission or omissions, governments have not publicized SADC national media contact persons and SADC national contact points.
The 14 member team of Journalists, drawn from SADC countries, is undergoing a five day orientation training on reporting SADC issues. Collins Mtika of Nyasa Times and Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi (CIJM) and Yvonne Sundu of Nation Publications Limited (NPL) are representing Malawi.
GIZ and the Germany International Cooperation have bankrolled both the orientation programme and the actual coverage of the summit in Botswana.
The 35th Summit of Heads of State and Governments is scheduled for 11th to 18th August in Gaborone, Botswana.
Martin also observed that SADC national committees in most countries, which should be composed of government, private sector, civil society, NGOs, workers and employers organisations, are only composed of government officials only.
“This is against Article 16 of the SADC Consolidated Treaty. There is supposed to be a technical committee of ICT and that’s where the media comes in,” she said.
Martin then schooled the media saying sometimes complaints of lack of information stem from the Journalists’ lack of preparedness and planning.
“It’s easier to get information in this world of today than it was decades ago when some of us when in practice. Journalists of this age can be easily sent for run around because they do not do research. Let’s ask questions with context and background tweaked in,” she advised.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :