KASANE – Southern African Development Community (SADC) journalists are implored to desist from sensational reporting as it threaten the development agenda of SADC member states and beyond.
Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services in Zambia Isaac Chipampe, said fake news does not only misinforms citizens, but it also endangers nation states threatening development programmes as governments are constantly accused of corruption and theft for projects being undertaken.
“Fake news, rumours and sensational stories today flood the media about how much has been stolen by government officials, to the extent that confidence among public officials is being eroded day by day and projects end up stalling,” Chipampe recently told journalists at a workshop in Kasane, Botswana.
The workshop organised by SADC and the Deutsche Gessellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) was attended by journalists from Namibia, Zambia and Botswana.
He reckons that although sensationalism and fake news have been there time immemorial, it is currently heightened with the era of social media and thus calls for restoration.
He said there is a need to restore the confidence in public officials, which is only possible if journalists set themselves apart from the so-called citizen journalism.
“Journalists need to distinguish themselves from non-journalists by reporting the truth, and for the truth to prevail, journalists must make clear to whom they owe their first loyalty. Loyalty to citizens is the most important asset for anyone who claims to produce journalism,” said Chipampe.
Also speaking at the same workshop, the SADC Secretariat Communications and Public Relations Officer Innocent Mbvundula also implored the SADC journalists to promote SADC projects.
“Without effective communication, SADC will be misunderstood. Its achievements will not be known and the organisation will not fully realise its development aim to eradicate poverty in the SADC region with its citizens being prime drivers or regional integration,” said Mbvundula.