Ramaphosa, the current AU chairperson, said this when he addressed the virtual launch of the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists in Africa on Friday.
According to him, the new platform will perform real-time monitoring, reporting and follow-up actions to secure the safety of journalists across Africa, especially in countries where some mercurial leaders and institutions are known to endanger journalists for merely performing their duties.
The facility would issue alerts on the harassment, detention and murder of African journalists by publishing these violations on the digital platform in order to hold the perpetrators of violence against journalists and media outlets accountable for their misdeeds, the president said.
“The media have a crucial role to play in the historic and continent-wide movement by Africans to build a continent of their dreams,” Ramaphosa said.
He said Africa’s march towards the achievement of the aspirations of long-term development blueprint, Agenda 2063, “requires that we nurture and protect a free and independent media.”
“It requires that we vigorously defend the right of journalists to do their work - to write, publish and broadcast what they like, even if we disagree with some or all of it," he added.
Ramaphosa said the Digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists in Africa was an important tool in promoting the safety of journalists and other media workers across Africa.
“Africa is on the march to entrench a culture of human rights, democracy, gender equality, inclusion, peace, prosperity, security for all citizens and unfettered media freedom and independence.
“We look to this digital platform to contribute to an enabling environment for the media to operate in AU member states through respect for the rights of journalists and media workers and an end to impunity for crimes against journalists,” Ramaphosa said.
In addition, the Digital Platform is expected to help improve awareness on the importance of media freedom and the safety of journalists in the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the AU’s Agenda 2063 aspirations.
“We congratulate the South African Editors Forum, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the International Federation of Journalists, the African Federation of Journalists, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Peer Review Mechanism and other AU partners on the launch of this worthy project.
“We pledge to provide support to the digital platform through the relevant structures and institutions of the African Union,” the AU chairperson concluded.