SADC should enable journalists to operate in free environment: Mponda

04 May 2019 14:30pm
WINDHOEK, 04 MAY (NAMPA) – Governments in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should align themselves with international standards, to enable journalists to operate in a free environment without fear of their lives when doing their jobs.
This was said in a media statement issued Friday by the chairperson of the Southern African Editor’s Forum (SAEF) Willie Mponda, who emphasised that SADC governments can do so by abolishing “all draconian laws”.
Mponda said this as part of the celebrations of the annual World Press Freedom Day.
He said even though Namibia is ranked number one on the African continent, SAEF is still experiencing mixed reports on media freedom in the SADC region as some countries are still behind in granting press freedom, although some have shown growth in certain areas.
“Parties shall encourage the establishment or strengthening of codes of ethics to build public confidence and professionalism in the information sub-sector,” said Mponda.
He gave examples of countries like Zambia, where the editor of the Rainbow Newspaper, Derrick Sinjela was sentenced to 18 months in jail for contempt of court on 20 December 2018 for reporting and questioning the judiciary in that country.
In Mozambique, Amade Abubacar, a radio journalist working for Nacedje Community Radio was arrested on 05 January for documenting deadly attacks by armed groups against civilians in Cabo Delgado Province, and he has since not been tried, Mponda said.
He added that SADC should draft laws to protect journalists and the journalism profession including tax exemptions for media houses, as they do play a critical role in society and at times at no cost at all.
The media carries public announcements which are not charged but still must pay taxes at the same rate as any other profit-making body including those that do not have any corporate social investments, he expressed.
Mponda noted that Zambia has introduced a tax on free internet based voice calls or Voice-Over Internet Protocol specifically targeting Skype and WhatsApp, which makes those calls more expensive and impedes free communication of media practitioners.