The search is on for the top Southern African Development Community (SADC) journalists who have the power to shape society and amplify the voices of the minorities and voiceless by telling developmental stories of the region.
The 23rd meeting of the Regional Adjudication Committee (RAC) on the SADC Media Awards competition for 2018 got underway in Johannesburg this morning.
The RAC meeting, which is hosted by GCIS, will also among others review the implementation of the activities of the SADC Communication and Promotional Strategy and amend the media awards competition guidelines and rules with the aim of ensuring adherence to the competition rules and credibility of entries.
The week long meeting, which is attended by adjudicators from member states such as Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, will look to finalise the winners in the annual competition.
The awards also encourages media practitioners in member states to cover issues pertaining to the region for the promotion of regional integration and cooperation.
As such they promote regional integration and cooperation and also aim to recognise excellence in journalism in the area of print, photo, television, radio, as well as to encourage media practitioners in member states to cover issues pertaining to the region.
Awards tell SADC stories
Speaking at the opening of the session of the RAC, Deputy Minister of Communications Pinky Kekana said the awards are imperative as they help tell the SADC stories.
“The significance of this event is to ensure that our people – especially in the media space – that we promote freedom of expression, but also defend the media to be able to speak and inform our people of the good stories happening in our region.”
She told the adjudicators that the region has a good story to tell. She mentioned the great strides in the areas of trade, peace and security, security, social cohesion, economic growth to alleviate poverty, infrastructure development, regional integration and democratic principles.
The deputy minister further mentioned the regional economic opportunities, for instance, the second Meeting of the Technical Steering Committee of the Project on Enhancement of a Sustainable Regional Energy Market in the Eastern Africa-Southern Africa-Indian Ocean and the Industrialisation Strategy that is being rolled out this year to 12 member states to confront the challenges of youth empowerment.
However, she questioned who knows that a new dawn is beginning to emerge in the SADC states?
She emphasized the role of the media, saying they have the power to shape society, amplify the voices of the minorities and voiceless and described it as the cornerstones of democracies.
“The role and commitment of the media cannot be overemphasised, and they are called the Fourth Estate because they are a window through which we can see what is happening across the world and they can shape our society.”
Kekane said the role of the awards is to recognise and to some extent, reward partners in the media industry who assist in making sure that ordinary people, including the many stakeholders and audiences, are informed and made aware of the positive strides SADC region is making.
“The focus of the adjudication process is on those stories that contribute towards regional integration. I, therefore, call upon you all to do service to the region by truly recognising the work that pronounces on the efforts of the member states in realising the objectives of SADC.”
The RC meeting will also finalise the winners of the SADC media awards which will be announced at the 38th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government.
The summit will be held in Namibia from August 17-18 under the theme: “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”