The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) have launched a programme to revive the Southern African Journalists Association (SAJA). SAJA is the southern Africa network of journalists and media workers unions most of which are affiliates of the IFJ.
The IFJ is the biggest organisation of journalists in the world, with about 500 000 journalists worldwide. It has its head office in Brussels, Belgium and the Africa Region office in Dakar, Senegal. FXI is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
SAJA represents journalists and media workers in the Southern African states of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. SAJA was founded in 2002 but folded due to a few operational reasons.
The IFJ and FXI view the revival of the Association as a milestone in the quest to protect media freedom and freedom of expression. The revival comes at a time when journalists and some media houses are coming under increased strain from certain quarters in many countries as a result of the vigilant job that journalists do in order to expose excesses of power. In some cases spaces have in fact been closed altogether for journalists to operate in free environments.
It will be the responsibility of SAJA to assist in reviving national organisations where those are weak so that the rights of journalists and the right of the public to know and have access to information are protected.
“SAJA will also serve as a platform for the sharing of experiences between different countries. As the regional integration is consolidated at a political and economic level, it is important that journalists and media workers also come together to defend their rights and interests in the media industry and the interests of ordinary citizens who most need to assess information and to be enlightened,” said Gabriel Baglo, director of the IFJ Africa Region
SAJA will be in the interim hosted and run by the FXI to provide administrative capacity until the congress next year (2006) when a full Executive and an independent office will be established. The operations will start on the 3rd January 2006.
For more information contact:
Head: Media and ICT Programme
Freedom of Expression Institute
Tel: +27 11 403 8403 or +27 825655093
Director, IFJ Africa
Tel: +221- 842 01 42