The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the results of the Southern African Journalists’ Association (SAJA) congress held in Johannesburg (South Africa) from August 16 – 17, 2006 which outlined a new programme for organising journalists’ unions in the region. The congress gathered journalists and media workers unions from the Southern African region and elected a new executive committee of five members, with the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Journalists Association, Foster Dongozi, as the President of the regional body.
The IFJ and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) in 2005 launched the programme to revive SAJA after it was founded in 2002. The SAJA launching programme has been hosted by FXI with the support of Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES).
“The main objective of SAJA is to stand as a strong umbrella organization for journalists unions and associations in the sub region in order to promote integration, information sharing and allowing the national unions to build up and face local challenges with regional and international support” said the president of SAJA, Foster Dongozi.
The Director of the IFJ Africa Office, Gabriel Baglo, said “Media NGOs in Southern Africa have been very visible and vocal on press freedom and freedom of expression matters. Despite the good work there is a limit to what they can do for journalists. They cannot fight for journalists’ social rights and welfare; they can not fight for editorial independence in the newsrooms; access to information and the protection of sources without the support of organized journalists unions,” “SAJA and Journalists’ trade unions therefore need to cooperate with these NGOs and to build on what they have achieved.” concluded Gabriel Baglo.
The congress deliberations on policy framework and programme of action of SAJA took into account Trade Union Development in the media industry, Collective Bargaining, the welfare of Journalists and media workers at the workplace and professional Ethics.
The Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA) covers a wide region of media workers and journalists associations, comprising of member unions from twelve (12) SADC countries. It seeks to foster collaborative work between regional trade unions based on common workplace concerns and the socio- economic and political conditions within which media workers and journalists operate. SAJA also provides opportunities for the creation of one voice for media workers and journalists in the region on issues of ethics, socio- economic and political problems confronting southern Africa countries - the independence of journalists and the concomitant challenge of protecting journalists from harassment and intimidation.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries