Media a key player in fight against Covid-19

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe has called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to ensure that the media is recognises an essential service in the fight against Covid-19. 

In its Africa Day communique, the media body said it was concerned with the violations of individual freedoms, the right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression in some African states especially on journalists. 

Africa Day is this year celebrated at a time when African countries are battling with the global coronavirus with most of the countries on lockdown as part ofmeasures to curb the spread of the pandemic. 

This year’s theme is, Silencing the guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africa’s development and intensifying the fight against the Covid-19pandemic.  

The theme is also a key pillar of the Agenda 2063 which requires African union (AU) member states, including Zimbabwe to embrace diversity, prevent and or address deficiencies in democracy. 

In a statement, MISA Zimbabwe said it is worrying that a majority of Southern African countries are taking advantage of the outbreak of Coronavirus to tighten their grip on power. 

“As the continent commemorates Africa day on 25 May 2020, it is worrying that the majority of Southern African Countries, typical of fragile states are taking advantage of the outbreak of the deadly Coronavirus to tighten their grip on power,” said MISA. 

MISA said respective governments do not view media as part of the ecosystem of essential services aimed at fighting the spread of the disease. 

The media body said African countries have taken advantage of the lockdown to introduce despicable laws and engaging in practices that undermine media freedom, access to information and freedom of expression. 

“In most of these countries, the common trend has seen the Executive unilaterally making decisions as if their respective countries are on sabbatical in terms of upholding constitutional rights. 

“Resultantly, the law-making role of Parliament in these Countries is being subverted and diminishing, there by compromising the much-needed checks and balances and the principle of separation of powers.”

MISA added that they have received several reported media violations across the region, perpetrated by state security agents in Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

MISA also called on African states to distribute funds to preserve and guarantee the survival of the media outlets post Covid-19 era. 

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