The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in collaboration with the Eastern Africa Journalists Association (EAJA) and the Southern Africa Journalists Association (SAJA) concluded today a two -day conference on the "Effects of Globalisation on the Media Industries in Eastern and Southern Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa,. The Conference brought together 22 journalists and trade union rights leaders from Eastern and Southern Africa, to deliberate and explore the current negative trends utilised by media conglomerates, as well as the challenges that globalization generates.
"This meeting wishes to draw attention to the media conglomerates in Eastern and Southern Africa who do not consider the plight of journalists, despite the huge profits they are making.", said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa Office, speaking at the opening ceremony. "Our unions are critical in shaping and setting a progressive agenda for their members and to ensure that they fulfill their professional responsibilities to the general citizenry" he said. He called on the unions to be more vibrant and vigilant in defending the interest and welfare of their members. 'We should never leave the media agenda entirely on the hands of the employers" he emphasized.
The unions in the continent, he said, are still struggling to recruit more membership into the unions especially bringing on board female journalists. The resource mobilization as well as the daily battle that we have to fight in relation to the obnoxious legislation that are continuously passed in many countries, with the sole aim of suppressing press freedom. However, the globalization issue has become very pertinent and we cannot wait any longer for it to be addressed.
The Guest Speak at the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Dumisani Moyo, Media and ICTs Programme Manager at OSISA, said that the topic of the conference is very timely, as this affects all of us. Globalisation has many faces and ramifications including the technological, cultural, economic and political aspects", he said. He commended the Survey that has been presented on the effects of globalization in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Swaziland as quite outstanding and called on the IFJ to ensure that a publication comes out of this survey to shed light on the challenges and effects of globalization in the region.
The representative of the Director of the FES Trade Union Competence Centre in South Africa, Gred Botterweck commended the subject of the Conference and highlighted that a lot of work has been done on the effects of globalization on the mining industry, agriculture and others but nothing much has been done on the media. Botterweck opined that the working conditions of journalists should be looked at as a critical factor in the globalization context, as more and more journalists are becoming freelancers. These journalists he said, are not employed and hence do not have any social benefits.
SAJA President, Felile Moholi, said that the role of the media in the enhancing democracy and good governance cannot be over emphasized. The media, she said must be supported in order for it to perform its duties. She called on the unions to remain vigilant in defending the interest of their members, most especially under the enormous threats of globalization.
Similarly, the Program Coordinator of the EAJA, William Onyango Oloo, said that the effects of globalisation has serious consequences on the media and journalists in eastern Africa. He said that the media conglomerates have a disdain for labour laws and have continuously exploited journalists, by actively undermining the unions. The unions he said have be completely weakened and in the event had lost their vital members.
The Conference and the regional associations in a declaration have called on the unions to launch campaigns to raise awareness on the effects of globalisation, especially on job security and working conditions, and sensitise members on ILO Conventions on the right to freedom of Association and to collective bargaining.
The Declaration also called on the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) and the Africa Media Leaders Forum (AMLF) to give attention to the effects of globalization in Eastern and Southern Africa and to promote social dialogue in the media industry by respecting the rights to unionize in the work place to Collective Bargaining.