2024: A call to action from the Network of African Investigative Reporters and Editors
In 2023, Africa proved to be an increasingly dangerous place, both for journalists and for journalism itself. Not only were at least eight of us murdered and 67 imprisoned in this one year, with scores more threatened and harassed, but even the practice of reporting the truth around us is being made increasingly difficult by the corrupt who lead our countries. Political leaders – often kleptocrats who sell out resources, promote incompetence and nepotism and harass and oppress civil society – pay fake news reporters and publications vast amounts of money to drown out those who aim to unveil injustice and hold ruling elites accountable.
They use violence to intimidate us, deny us access to information and refuse to even answer the phone when we raise questions. Citizens report losing hope, especially when manipulated elections merely keep the same political elites in power.
It needs to be noted that our corrupt leaders, besides hurting their own citizens, also cause damage to the rest of the world. How will migration away from Africa subside, when kleptocrat rulers benefit from it through ever higher passport fees and involvement in human trafficking agencies? How can climate change and deforestation be halted when international funding meant to address these problems disappears into individual’s pockets?
Europe has expressed concern about African military coups, but does it really expect desperate citizens to continue to submit to the rule of thieving and incompetent postcolonial regimes?
Nevertheless, the fact that our current political leaders spend vast amounts on fake news while hunting credible journalists also appears to show that they do, increasingly, see us as a threat. This we are proud to have in common with the activists, critical professionals and other citizens in our countries who challenge the current powers and their systems. Our reports have highlighted the need for international powers to listen to the cry for freedom that is growing louder in more and more of our countries.
As African investigative reporters, committed to democracy, social justice, transparency, and accountability, we need to be heard and read in London, Paris, New York and indeed Moscow, Teheran, or Beijing.
We are pleased to say that in this respect too, we have made great strides in 2023, with publications by or about us in media in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and the USA. In 2024 we ask to be heard even more by these media outlets and their audiences, simply because it’s no longer business as usual. Without our voices, without support for free media and democracy on our continent, without a joint effort to stand against kleptocratic oppressors, Africa is at risk of sliding down even further, with more and more drought and conflict, more people voting with their feet, and more and more despair forcing military coups and other nightmarish futures on the continent.
Journalists are not activists, nor should they be. But it is our professional and ethical duty to report in the public interest, unveil wrongdoing, hold wrongdoers accountable and indeed seek impact for the better. We issue this call for support to colleagues, the wider international citizenry, and the world, because we believe that with more freedom for credible media, more support for the forces of democracy and less kleptocracy, Africa can be a better place. And that a better Africa, which is better equipped to serve its people as well as its nature, forests and climate will also mean a better world.
We hereby pledge in 2024 to:
Distinguish ourselves, members of NAIRE, as credible, ethical journalists who stand firm amid a barrage of fake news and paid propaganda;
Seek the debate within our communities as well as with the international community and the powerful;
Inform our civil society and equip it with the information it needs to act for the public interest;
Establish a strong presence on social media, from where we plan to increasingly engage pan-African and international audiences;
Call colleagues from countries where journalism is more protected to work with us in equality and help amplify our work;
Call pro democracy forces, powerful partner countries internationally, the European Union and the African Union to support professional journalism and forces for democracy, accountability and transparency on the continent. And to establish this support in dialogue with African citizen’s structures as well as with independent journalists and their networks;
Continue to build and use the ZAM platform to broadcast our calls and our pan-African transnational efforts.
And to increase its function as a channel for the editorial, security, legal and psychological support that we so sorely lack in most of our countries;
To engage with international supporters of democracy and free media in assisting us to set up more professional media platforms of good standard in Africa itself.
Agather Atuhaire, independent journalist, Uganda, @AAgather
Anas Aremeyaw Anas, Ghana, @anasglobal
Brezh Malaba, Newshawks, Zimbabwe, @BrezhMalaba
Catherine Muema, Africa Uncensored, Kenya, @catevacemuema
Charles Mafa, Makanday Centre for Investigative Journalism, Zambia, @MakandayMedia
Chief Bisong Etahoben, Cameroon, @ChiefBisongEta1
David Dembélé, Dépêches du Mali and Mail24Info, Mali, @alcofris
Derick Matsengarwodzi, free-lance, Zimbabwe, @Comic24Derick
Elizabeth BanyiTabi, The Guardian Post, Cameroon, @ElizabethTabi1
Emmanuel Mutaizibwa, Nation Media, Uganda, @emutaizibwa
Estacio Valoi, Moz24H, Mozambique, @estaciosvaloi
Gregory Gondwe, Platform for Investigative Journalism, Malawi, @PlatformMalawi
Hayatte Abdou, National Magazine, Comoros, @hayatteabodu
John-Allan Namu, Africa Uncensored, Kenya, @AFuncensored
Josephine Chinele, Platform for Investigative Journalism, Malawi, @JosephineChinel
Joy Kirigia, Africa Uncensored, Kenya, @Joy_Kirigia
Musikilu Mojeed, Editor in Chief Premium Times, Nigeria, @musikilu
Ngina Kirori, Special Projects and Investigative Reporter, Nation Media, Kenya, @NginaKirori
Ohemeng Tawiah, Joynews, Ghana, @ohemengtawiah
Selay Marius Kouassi, journalist/media trainer Information Integrity Initiative, Ivory Coast, @selaymariusk
Taiwo Adebulu, The Cable, Nigeria, @taiween
Theophilus Abbah, Daily Trust, Nigeria @theophilusa
See for our recent publications:
Cry Freedom, https://www.zammagazine.com/investigations/1563-human-rights-violations-2017-2022-in-nigeria-cameroon-uganda-zimbabwe-and-kenya
The Wealth beneath their Feet https://www.zammagazine.com/investigations/1679-mozambique-southern-africa-s-mining-scars-part-3
The Making of Migration https://www.zammagazine.com/investigations/1712-the-making-of-african-migration-losing-hope
Public Servants fighting corruption from within https://www.zammagazine.com/investigations/1728-public-servants-kenya-uganda-nigeria-ghana-malawi
The Murder of Martinez Zogo https://www.zammagazine.com/investigations/1648-cameroon-the-murder-of-martinez-zogo l