Journalists have been honoured for their contribution to raising awareness on the need for southern Africa to promote social accountability in national and regional development. The journalists were honoured at the 3rd Regional Dialogue for Non-State Actors on the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 held in a hybrid format across six countries namely Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa on 13-14 September 2023.
Bright Kumwenda, a writer for The Nation in Malawi, and Christopher Chisi from Zambian broadcaster 5FM got the award for the best story on Food Security for print and broadcast respectively, while Bbalewa Zyuulu from Phoenix FM based in Zambia scooped the only prize on HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). “I am proud to receive this award,” Kumwenda said, to which Chisi added, “I will continue to write about how ordinary people are affected by the decisions that policymakers make.” Zyuulu concurred saying “The media should play its role in making sure that the government is accountable for its actions.” Each of the winners walked away with US$600.
The awards were organized by Highway Africa in collaboration with ActionAid and its partners. Tatenda Chitikobo from Highway Africa said the media is a critical stakeholder in advancing regional integration, hence it was important to capacitate journalists to report from an objective and knowledgeable position. “The media is under a lot of strain, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era and it is our responsibility to ensure that we capacitate journalists to carry out their work and advance development in the region.”
The 3rd Regional Dialogue for Non-State Actors on the RISDP 2020-2030 is co-convened by 14 regional organizations, led by the Partnership for Social Accountability (PSA) Alliance (a consortium of ActionAid International (AAI), Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) of Rhodes University, Eastern and the Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) as well as SAfAIDS.
Other co-conveners are the Southern Africa Trust, Economic Justice Network (EJN) of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA), Southern African People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN), and the Southern Africa Coordination Council (SATUCC), SADC Council of NGOs, Care International, Global Campaign for Education, Trust Africa, SADC Youth Forum (SAYoF), and Agenda 2063 Media Network.
The dialogue sought to assess progress made by southern Africa in implementing its 10-year regional strategic plan. The meeting also reviewed how SADC Member States have worked towards strengthening accountability in the generation and management of public resources to ensure the delivery of effective public services.