25 October 2016
African Union Commissioners
The African Editors Forum
Ladies and Gentleman
Having listened to the conference deliberations to engage African citizens, engagements and eye opening ideas, I am assured that Agenda 2063 and as 7 Aspirations ae going to be actively communicated, visible and accessible to ALL Africans.
The media are a critical partner to popularise Agenda 2063 and this conference serves to foster an inclusive African media landscape, which in turn should contribute towards crafting a progressive African narrative.
In it’s 10 year implementation plan, the African Union Commission highlights of the areas we cannot progress without. Key amongst these are closing the skills gap in the newsroom and media operations, we need a skills revolution women as equal partners in telling our stories. We need to empower our women as they are the majority on this continent and are at the forefront of implementing social change.
I am encouraged by the high number of women participants in this conference and having listened to your experiences, I am convinced that the role of women in the media is central to transforming the media landscape in Africa. Women by necessity are innovators and can provide pragmatic solutions to communicating in Africa and building bridges that join various African communities and cultures.
However, I am concerned by the low turnout of state owned media. It is important that governments participate actively in communicating African Union programme to their citizens. This important task cannot only be left to privately owned media practitioners. I am certain that this is a matter that will be taken forward by the African Union Commissioners.
Governments working together with the media can accelerate the objectives of Agenda 2063. If I can share some of our experiences, the South African media has played a critical role in driving change to liberate the people of South Africa, including the struggle for media freedom, freedom of expression, access to information, media diversity and the right to communicate. This principle is reflected in the Constitution Act of 1996.
South Africa has a constitutional legal framework protecting press freedom and a number of other pieces of law that promote editorial independence, media diversity, independent regulation and access to information. These include the Broadcasting Act, Electronic Communications Act, Media Development and Diversity Act, Independent Communications Authority of SA Act, Promotion of Access to Information Act, Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, etc. These attest to our country’s commitment to media freedom.
In the 22 years of our democracy, the right of the public to a free media is indisputable. It is an essential component of South Africa’s democracy which depends on informed citizens participating in all aspects of our society. There are many aspects to this, and for the media to play its role it needs to be trusted and seen as credible by the public.
Media transformation is critical to set the tone and raise awareness of Agenda 2063. Media sets the Agenda of the implementation of Aspirations of Agenda 2063 to be understood and play a role.
Our commitment to freedom of expression and a free media remains steadfast. As is our commitment to a free and flourishing media. I can further assure you that government will continue to engage with media and the industry in a spirit of partnership.
I have heard the valuable comments from the participants and can make tangible commitments to support the African Union Commissions collaboration with the African Editors Forum.
Firstly, we will dedicate a page in Vukuzenzele, the South African government’s newspaper to propagate news from the African Union as our contribution to promoting its programmes amongst our citizens.
Secondly we will create an information distribution point through all the information Resource Centres in all the Provincial offices of GCIS so that we can disseminate.
Finally, as part of the conversations machinery, South Africa is prepared to share its experience through Brand South Africa, the custodian of our nation brand to assist African Union Communications programme.
Commissioners, let me take this opportunity to invite the African media to cover an important communication milestone that South Africa will accelerate to transform the media space.
On 28 October 2016, I will lead an event in the Northern Cape to mark the first phase of analogue switching off (ASO). The ASO is one of the critical milestone of the Broadcasting Digital Migration process. The Northern Cape in the Square Kilometre Array area will become the first province in the country to switch off its analogue signal. Analogue transmitters will be switched off in the following towns, Van Wyksvlei; Brandvlei; Williston; Vosburg and Carnarvon.
The outcomes of the conference with the AU chairperson and honourable commissioners has certainly set the tone on how we can communicate and strengthen collaboration with all sectors to drive the implementation of Agenda 2063. It is in our hands that we Build a better Africa and A better World. Let’s go out there and tell the African Narrative better to empower people as set out in the Agenda.
I wish you all a pleasant journey ahead to your different destinations and bid you a Warm South African Farewell till we meet again!
Issued by Department of Communications