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Region gears for World Press Freedom Day

BY STAFF REPORTER

Stakeholders in the media sector are presently holding consultations ahead of World Press Freedom Day celebrations, which will be hosted by Namibia.

In Southern Africa, the regional consultations are being led by Misa Zimbabwe and the Southern African Editors Forum (Saef).

“We are holding participatory and inclusive consultations in an effort to produce a summary of key elements to be included in the final Windhoek+30 Declaration,” Misa Zimbabwe regional campaigns coordinator Nqaba Matshazi said.

The consultations will feed into the programme of the Africa Regional Forum, which will be held on April 30 in Windhoek, Namibia, ahead of the main celebrations on May 3.

Due to Covid-19 protocols, the forum will be hybrid, with a limited number of participants being there physically, while others will participate virtually.

The consultations will focus on developing the viability of the media and strengthening their role in the production and sharing of information.

They will also focus on reinforcing the transparency of online platforms as an essential pillar for information to remain a common good.

The final thematic area looks at strengthening media and information literacy capacities in times of disinformation and hate speech.

So far, three consultation meetings have been held, with another three expected this week.

The consultations are supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The Windhoek+30 Declaration builds up on the Windhoek Declaration, which was made 30 years ago in Namibia.

The Windhoek Declaration for the Development of a Free, Independent and Pluralistic Press, is a statement of press freedom principles by African newspaper journalists in 1991, which became the foundation of World Press Freedom Day.

“The media landscape has changed since then,” Matshazi said, “with broadcasting and the internet growing in leaps and bounds across the region, necessitating an update of the Windhoek Declaration to reflect contemporary times.”

Furthermore, this year’s World Press Freedom Day commemorations will focus on the need to update global commitment to freedom of expression, press freedom and freedom of information within the framework of Sustainable Development Goal 16.10.

The theme for this year’s World Press Freedom Day celebrations is “Promoting information as a public good”.

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