MEDIA ISSUES OUT OF NATIONAL DIALOGUE CONFERENCE
The National Dialogue conference officially ended yesterday, the 17th November, 2020 in Juba. The event which attracted more than 400 delegates from across the country was a process initiated by President Salva Kiir on 22nd May, as an attempt to end the country’s civil war, resuscitate the state building process and pave the way towards national unity. However, major national players have distanced themselves from the Dialogue as they fear that it wouldn’t overcome the deep cleavages that run through South Sudan’s political elites and the broader population. Since then, the initiative underwent a series of processes ranging from grassroots consultative meetings to regional conferences culminating into a National dialogue conference which was just concluded yesterday. Surprisingly, the Media was missing on the agenda list. Whether by design or default, the country would not know for now. Was it error of omission or commission? Media is supposed to be media when protected by the law of the land. Media plays critical role as a gatekeeper but most importantly as a bridge between the governed and the governor. It is essential for topical discussions such as national dialogue. The media is at the forefront of raising issues that touch the heart of the nation and for national dialogue conference to ignore essence of it contributions by not putting it on the agenda only amounts to suppression of freedom of expression. The media feels betrayed by the people it holds dear and those who only want their voice to be heard. Freedom of expression is an inalienable right to everyone and it is enshrined in the constitution of the land despite the fact that freedom comes at a cost, media has taken up the mantle of fighting for those perceived voiceless and that their voice could make different. Therefore, media is cornerstone of freedom, fairness, voice and beacon of hope for every citizen irrespective of their status in society.