Media Authority is a saboteur
As the chairman of the communications department in the secretariat of the steering committee of the national dialogue, our work in the department has not been easy. People outside the country are largely skeptical of the dialogue. They think those of us who agreed to participate in the dialogue have been bribed by the government and are hence not effective. I have explained that my participation in this dialogue has already secured the release of two of my Journalist colleagues and more is likely to happen to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue not only between Journalists and the government but between the authorities and opposition elements living abroad. As I tried to find out why our work was being made difficult, I bumbled on some information which made me very sad. I was informed that the Media Authority, the body that has been charged with supervising the work of Journalists, has been denying visas to foreign journalists who want to come and report events in the country. This is sending the wrong message to foreigners and opposition elements abroad that the dialogue is not a genuine and transparent process. It is making the opposition especially the armed ones to suspect that the government simply wants them to return home where they would be arrested. The Media Authority says it is denying visas to foreign Journalists who have been persistent critics of the government because it does not want them to come and distort the image of the country. This is where the problem is. The Media Authority law does not give this body the right to deny visas to Journalists on the ground that they write articles critical of the government. Infact these are the very people we want in this country, so that we can give them correct information to change their perception of this country. By refusing entrance into this country the Media Authority has given the impression that the government has something, maybe a lot, to hide. The President has assured us that all the people coming to the country especially Journalists will be given full freedom to move freely and communicate and mingle with full liberty inside the country. Why does the Media Authority want to sabotage this major countrywide enterprise? I would like to call upon the Media Authority not to pull the rug under my feet and reverse its decision to deny entry to some Journalists. It should allow all Journalists to come to South Sudan to report all that they see, bad or good. If they report inaccurate or bias information, we (South Sudanese Journalists and the Media Authority can be able to correct them. If the Media Authority wants to admit into the country only Journalists who also see only the good then it should turn itself into a department of the ministry of Information and recruit Public Relations Officers to polish the image of the government and leave us to form a genuine Media Authority which would supervise the work of the media which is ready to give accurate and balanced information about our country.