Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday in Maputo swore into office the 11 members of the Higher Mass Media Council (CSCS), a watchdog body, set up under the Constitution, which has the task of ensuring the independence of the mass media, in exercising the right to information, the freedom of the press, the right of reply, and the allocation of broadcasting time to political parties.
The new CSCS team is headed by prominent journalist Rogerio Sitoe, whom Nyusi appointed as chairperson.
Addressing the CSCS members, Nyusi stressed that their new duties are extremely contentious, particularly nowadays, but he hoped that the role and discipline of the body will help Mozambican society to develop an atmosphere of peace and social harmony.
Nyusi outlined two pressing challenges. First, he said, there has been an exponential expansion of radio, television and print media over the last few years, within a growing competition for readers, viewers and listeners. This was not a bad thing in itself, but the President said there is increasing concern within society regarding the trend to disrespect the most elementary principles of common social ethics.
"We are going through a moment marked by disrespect for family values, for human dignity, and for women and children by the mass media", he claimed.
But the frequent violations of the basic principles of life and society, he added, is not caused by the absence of any specific law, and thus Nyusi called on the CSCS to promote as many open debates as possible on the issues, within society in order to rescue certain values which have been fading away.
The second challenge, according to Nyusi, is the fact that the country has been experiencing armed violence and terrorism which are attractive to the mass media because of the great human and emotional impact they cause.
"If we regard the search for news, at any cost, as natural and understandable, where the journalist looks for images about the terrorist violence which has been staining our bodies and hearts, he and his media house should have the moral obligation to respect the rules of human dignity," said the president.
Reporting about human suffering should not mean mere competition to attract an audience, much less the resort to fake news or unconfirmed reports to create panic or celebrate deaths and the destruction of the social and economic fabric of innocent people.
The President added that it is the expectation of the majority that each CSCS member will add value to the team work conducted by their predecessors in the same roles and thus face the new challenges with creativity and innovation.
Aware that the CSCS has a fundamental role for the country's development, Nyusi reaffirmed the government's commitment to ensure continuously the necessary conditions for an environment where journalists carry out their duties in freedom and with no interference.