Regional media practitioners have been urged to report responsibly on issues of East African Community (EAC) integration to avoid hurting the bloc’s agenda.
The caution was given by Dr Richard Sezibera, the Secretary General of EAC, while addressing the 6th EAC Media Summit in Kampala where media practitioners and owners met to discuss their role in the integration process.
Affirming that the media are partners in the integration process through informing and educating the public, Sezibera said some practitioners have of late been reporting irresponsibly on regional issues.
“I appeal to the media to be sensitive while reporting on regional integration. Do not be purveyors of shortcomings by portraying some member states as non-committal,” he said.
He decried media reports for the past few months, accusing them of coining the term “coalition of the willing” to refer to a section of some countries in the five-nation bloc.
“Coalition of willing to do what? All five countries are willing,” he said.
The phrase was coined after a series of trilateral meetings that Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya held, mainly aimed at promoting infrastructure development along the Northern Corridor.
Sezibera said the EAC Treaty provides for partner states to exercise variable geometry.
“Indeed, the East African Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion delivered in 2008 had opined that the application of the principle of variable geometry did not conflict with the principle of consensus,” he said.
Sezibera observed that the media is fuelling suspicion and mistrust among the people of East Africa.
Since the trilateral arrangement commenced in June this year, non-tariff barriers have been removed on the Northern Corridor, adding that it now takes eight days for a truck to move from Mombasa Port to Kigali instead of 22 days as was the case.
Meanwhile, during the meeting, media experts further deliberated on the formation of a Regional Media Advocacy Body as well as the Regional Media Regulatory Body.
Media owners and managers are expected to meet the Heads of State today to discuss more on the role of media in the community.