November 17, 2018


The Weekly Editorial


theweekly.Traditionally, the media has been believed to have three primary functions which interestingly, are known to all and sundry including elements of society that have always been hell-bent on attacking the fourth estate at the slightest opportunity they get.

However, the media has evolved significantly over the years, with society having bestowed an additional function on the media.

It is now accepted that, among others, the media must provide a truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of the day’s events in a context that gives them meaning; be a forum for and exchange of comments and criticism; project a representative picture of all social groups that make up society; state and clarify the goals and values of society towards which people should strive to achieve and ensure that the public has full access to the day’s intelligence – that is the public has the right to know.

In other words, the media is tasked with a leadership role of setting the agenda. One such agenda is governance. More often than not, this subject puts the media on a collision course with some sectors of society, holders of political office, to be precise.

This is a rather sad reality created by individuals who detest the words accountability and transparency.
The truth of the matter is: the media has a social role to explain exhaustively who gains or loses from the actions of holders of political office.

In politics, strong members of any given society devise structures, political, administrative, legal or ethical that work in their favour at the expense of weaker groups.
Equitable development can only be achieved if a number of general principles are adhered to: sensible economic and social policies, democratic decision making, adequate transparency and financial accountability.

The duty of the media is to keep the public fully informed and empowered to hold the leadership accountable for any action or inaction.

The media needs to examine policies and regulations (and individuals), which are a hindrance to activities that would improve the lives of the poor.

For instance, we have to examine licensing regulations for small-scale business enterprises and credit systems and establish whether they are not a hindrance to the setting up of such businesses.
The media also needs to look into the rights and responsibilities of the citizens so that people know their rights.

They have to inculcate a sense of duty and responsibility among the citizens and change them to active actors in overcoming poverty, ignorance and disease.
Citizens have to be made aware of their economic rights and that it is their responsibility to strive to meet these rights. It is the duty of the media to monitor funds allocated for social services and make follow ups to ensure they reach the targeted groups.
They have to look into its disbursement from the treasury all the way to the grassroots level to ensure it is used for the intended programmes and services. It is also the duty of the media to criticise the yawning gap in income between different groups in society.

Good governance requires a sound government administration and this can be achieved through efficiency and transparency on the part of the civil service on one hand, and service delivery and accountability on the other.

Civil servants are supposed to discharge their obligations skilfully and diligently. The exercise of their discretion should be applied judiciously, reasonably and in good faith. The business of the government must be conducted fairly and frankly.

In the light of this, it is the duty of the media to raise awareness of the citizens about their rights and responsibilities as regards the role of government.
The media has a responsibility to investigate and expose corruption, mismanagement and wastefulness in public institutions. We have a duty to empower citizens that they have a right to public service without further payment.

Unfortunately, in execution of our duties vis-à-vis the governance agenda, we have come under attack (including civil suits) from irresponsible office bearers who seem to have forgotten that the taxpayer has a right to know.

However, we will not allow ourselves to be bullied; we have a responsibility to the people.

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