Mbabane: The United Nations Eswatini had announced Media Awards for Eswatini Journalists, to recognise journalism excellence in reporting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This was revealed by UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Nathalie Ndongo-Seh, at the World Press Freedom Day Commemoration at Mountain Inn, Mbabane, on May 4, 2021.
She said this will include not only news stories but television and radio productions as well. The details of this initiative will be communicated in due course via our UN Communications Group (UNCG).
She said the awards are one of the programmes proposed by the UN to empower the media to play its crucial role in helping Eswatini achieve the SDGs.
Ndongo-Seh said this comes after she had committed herself to working closely with the media and build strong partnerships to improve the quality of news and programmes to benefit the public.
This year’s Global theme for the World Press Freedom Day is: “Information as a Public Good”. Ndongo-Seh said it is indeed of paramount importance, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, that information be widely accessible to the public, and that as UN they were looking at ways in which the production, distribution and reception of reliable information can strengthen journalism and advance transparency across society.
In commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day, the UN regional Coordinator expressed her appreciation to the Eswatini Editors Forum and UNESCO for joining hands to ensure that the nation is reminded of the importance of the World Press Freedom Day, whose 30th anniversary was celebrated around the world yesterday, the 3rd of May.
World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following a recommendation from UNESCO’s General Conference on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press held in Windhoek, Namibia from 29 April to 3 May 1991. Since then, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide on the 3rd of May as the World Press Freedom Day.
World Press Freedom Day serves as a reminder to Governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals on issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; assess the state of press freedom throughout the world; defend the media from attacks on their independence; and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Ndongo-Seh said, according the 2021 Press Gazette analysis of media freedom around the world has uncovered that 70 percent of the global population still have very little media freedom. Censorship and intimidation continue to threaten the journalism profession and freedom of the media.
European Union Ambassador to Eswatini, Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones noted that in the last several months, Eswatini has achieved a significant progress in addressing issues of press freedom. She made an example of the tabling in Parliament of the Broadcasting Corporation Bill (2019) which seeks to introduce independent radio and TV stations.
Arogones said this Bill has been a milestone in the Government’s attempt to diversify the digital media and it is great news for community media, as some community radio stations have been waiting for licenses for over 20 years now.
She further encouraged the Eswatini Government to continue make further strides to improve media freedom in the country. She said it was very unfortunate that Eswatini is the only country in the SADC region that is yet to free its airwaves. She said the EU encourages the government to establish a legal framework that allows for media freedom, freedom of speech and access to information in Eswatini.
Phesheya Dube, the Director of Information in the Ministry of Information, Communication and technology (ICT) said the First Draft of the Information Bill is now done and has been submitted to the office of the Attorney General and will be made public in due course. Dube who was representing the Minister of ICT Princess Sikhanyiso during the World Press Freedom Commemoration, said the Bill will allow media to access government information.