Media Freedom, Transparency and Governance
This paper, by veteran journalist Raymond Louw, asks a fundamental question: 'Can good governance exist without a free and independent media?' And he argues that Africa's premier governance and accountability tool - The APRM - seems to have ignored the issue. He notes that a possible reason is that 48 of the continent's 53 countries have 'insult' and criminal defamation laws which criminalise critical reporting of the conduct of public servants. In some cases, these cover only heads of state and other high-ranking officials, but in others, protection is extended to anyone working for the state. Louw argues that these countries would not make the grade under 'good governance' if required to show that their media functioned freely. His paper looks at the way freedom of expression issues were covered in reports of four early APRM countries - Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa, and he makes recommendations on how the APRM Self-Assessment Questionnaire could be adapted to include media issues.