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New editors’ forum reviews state of media

1st December 2003

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Following the All Africa Editors Conference held in South Africa, in April 2003, where it was resolved to form regional African editors’ forums, editors from nine Southern African countries met in Johannesburg at the weekend and agreed to form the Southern African Editors’ Forum (SAEF).

National editors’ forums from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe constitute the SAEF.

A Council made up of chairpersons representing all the countries elected an executive committee to manage the affairs of the forum, which include chairperson Henry Jeffreys (South Africa), deputy chair Robert Jamieson (Malawi), secretary Lawrence Keketso (Lesotho), treasurer Fernando Goncalves (Mozambique) and communications co-ordinator Jabu Matsebula (Swaziland).

In the media review at the weekend, the council expressed support for the SAEF in its actions opposing the subpoena’s issued to editors and journalists to testify before the Hefer Commission.

The SAEF said that it believes that this is an infringement of the freedom of the press, because it will put journalists in a situation where they might be required to divulge confidential sources or information.

The council also expressed a concern at the ongoing media crisis in Zimbabwe.

SAEF is particularly concerned about the closure of the Daily News, the ongoing intimidation and harassment of journalists and media organisations.

It called on the government of Zimbabwe to allow the Daily News to resume publication.

SAEF noted the polarisation between editors and journalists working in the independent and government media sectors in Zimbabwe, and would support editors in Zimbabwe to unite in order to improve the media environment in that country.

The council also expressed concern about the infringement of press freedom in Swaziland and recognised the efforts of the Swaziland Editors’ Forum to resolve this, as well as noting, ‘with grave concern’, the rapid spread of HIV/Aids in the Southern Africa region, and its implications on development.

Editors pledged their commitment to form partnerships with other organisations to highlight the impact of the pandemic and the need for improved attitudes towards people infected and affected by HIV/Aids.
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