Pretoria – Deputy Minister in The Presidency for Planning, Performance, Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration, Buti Manamela, says there is room for media and government to work together towards a sustained developmental agenda for the continent.

He said with the introduction of social media, ordinary citizens are no longer passive consumers of news and information.

“In South Africa, we are looking forward to media as a social partner that will help focus the nation’s attention and energies on the implementation of the National Development Plan and on the priorities outlined in our recently adopted Strategic Framework for this political term,” he said.

Speaking at the 18th Edition of the Highway Africa Conference, Deputy Minister Manamela said he strongly believes that African media have a key role to play in driving the new narrative of hope.

“By its very nature, media and government are often on different sides of the fence. Similarly, being on ‘different sides’ should not be a licence to use the might of the pen to push Africa’s development backward, or to use the sharpness of the sword to silence the media into a meek and obedient drummer of African governments,” he said.

Nat Nakasa

Touching on the late Nat Nakasa, the Deputy Minister described him as someone who dedicated his career to opposing the apartheid regime.

“As a journalist, he understood the power of information. He used his pen to tell the world about the gross human rights violations that routinely occurred in South Africa.

“He exposed the atrocities and systematic violence perpetrated against black people. He wrote about the condition of being black in apartheid South Africa, questioned the status quo and advocated for a free society,” the Deputy Minister said.

Deputy Minister Manamela said Nakasa was committed to journalistic principles, to telling his perspective no matter the cost put him in conflict with the apartheid government.

Nakasa’s remains will be reburied this weekend after they were brought back into the country last month.

Highway Africa Conference

The Highway Africa Conference is hosted by Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies in partnership with Corporate South Africa, development agencies and media associations.

The Conference held under the theme, “Social Media – from the margins to the mainstream,” was attended by media leaders, educators, policymakers and business executives.

According to the organisers of the conference, it seeks to explore how social media has impacted on all aspects of our lives in the last 10 years.

For seventeen years, the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism, media and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world.

Delegates from 36 African countries attended the conference including others from the United States of America, Bolivia, the Netherlands and Germany.