The African Editors Forum (TAEF), an umbrella organization for editors from across the continent, may soon be one of the observers at the annual African Union (AU) Summit, a senior AU official has said.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the outgoing chairperson of the AU Commission said during the ongoing 27th AU summit held here that she will push the request of TAEF to get the observer status.
"The status will accord the editors an opportunity to help promote Pan-Africanism ideals and also hold leaders accountable as they implement the agreed programs," Dlamini-Zuma said while addressing the editors on the sidelines of the AU summit in Kigali Rwanda.
Dlamini-Zuma underscored the role played by the media in Africa during the liberation struggle by developing African narrative that promoted unity leading to the formation of AU's precursor, the Organization of African Unity.
She noted that the early generations of Pan African journalists, at the turn of the nineteenth century, realized that they needed to give voice to the aspirations of their people.
"The mass media on the continent and beyond thus played a critical role in the struggles for liberation. It exposed the cruelty and exploitation of colonialism, and played a role in mobilizing the African people towards their liberation struggles," she added.
According to TAEF Secretary General Emrakeb Assefa, the inclusion will enable the editors participate in the deliberations and also help influence the outcome of the deliberations.
"This is the only way that editors can be in a position to know the resolutions passed and follow up on the progress with the aim of informing the populations," she noted.
Assefa added that the mass media has a role in working towards an Africa that is integrated, peaceful, prosperous and people-centered.
She said that change can only take place when the citizens get empowered with information from stakeholders.
Dlamini-Zuma cautioned journalists and editors to desist from crafting and disseminating an agenda of hatred, incitement and instigating the population to perpetrate violence, gross human rights violations and genocide against their neighbors and fellow citizens.
"The role played by journalists from Radio Television Milles Collins (RTLM) and the Kangaru newspaper 22 years ago in instigating violence and mass murders should not be repeated again in Africa," she said.
She said that the African media, in its great diversity, has a responsibility and an important role to play, to promote Pan Africanism and Africa's Renaissance in implementing AU's Agenda 2063, and to hold leaders accountable during implementation.
Dlamini-Zuma revealed that since 2009 Africa has been funding over 85 percent of its development as opposed to a belief that overseas development aid and foreign direct investment exceeds the continent's input.
Dlamini-Zuma noted that the media can and should give voice to the powerless, bringing to the forefront the problems faced by citizens, disseminating warnings about disasters and report on whether government lives up to its policies.