WINDHOEK - Some of the journalists who received a SADC media award during the 38th SADC Summit said that there is need to improve access to information and gender equality within the SADC media industry.
These winners who spoke to New Era after the event on Friday said poor access to information within SADC hinders journalists to fully carry out their duties.
Among the eight winners in the media category is the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation Television reporter Blanche Goreses, who scooped the second prize in the SADC television category.
Goreses said journalists in SADC face challenges as there are no laws compelling governments to give information freely.
“In the case of Namibia … whenever we drum up the need for us to have access to information as a law the government becomes defensive saying already media freedom is [tied] into the constitution,” said Goreses.
She further said that journalists cannot use that to the maximum to get information from some politicians who in some cases look at media with hostility.
As much as media freedom is guaranteed in the constitution, there is the issue of rights so people only give information when they want to.
She said that although she is a winner she struggled to get information on the story she reported that won her the prize, which was on insufficient funding for agriculture in SADC.
“I faced getting information from member states, Namibia included, I really did not get much information, nobody was forthcoming, I have to rely on data from the African Development Bank and information from a South African former finance minister. But if there was access to information as law I could have used that to my advantage as a journalist and say citizens have the right to know,” she explained.
“We must put government under pressure or act as pressure groups because we cannot have democracy but we do not have access to information because the two work hand in hand,” said the SADC media prize winner.
Another winner, in the print journalism category, Calvinian Kgautlhe from the Botswana government newspaper Daily News, said there is a need for women to have higher positions in the media industry. She wrote a story on the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, which connects Namibia, South Africa and Botswana that enables these countries to transport goods and services to ensure that there is swift movement of services and development of these countries.
The story she wrote dealt more with how people on the ground would benefit from the Trans-Kalahari Corridor.
The first winner walked away with U$2,000 (N$30,000) while those placed second walked away with U$1,000 (the equivalent of N$15,000) and a certificate.
“The males are the ones that are dominating most of the high positions. But the SADC gender protocol will address these challenges so that it will be 50/50 gender representation,” she said smilingly.
Since 1996 the SADC Secretariat introduced media awards to promote regional media in disseminating information.
Jacqueline Hindjou-Mafwila was the first Namibian journalist to win a SADC media award in 2009.
She wrote a story on the challenges faced by SADC journalists when covering the effects and interventions of HIV/AIDS.
In 2013, Hindjou-Mafwila received another award.
Steven Ndorokaze won an award in 2013 for his excellent and insightful documentary on the Trans-Kalahari Highway.