AMDISS & UJOSS Are Not "Media" Per Se Brother Alier.

"Under my long chairmanship of AMDISS, from its formation in 2003 to 2014, we had thought it necessary at a certain point to educate, through regular dialogue, our security forces on the important role of the media in national stability and development".

 
By Jacob J Akol*
 
We must differentiate the woods from the forest, brother Elija Alier of South Sudan Media Authority. Whatever powers have been bestowed on you to reign in independent media, domestic and foreign, you go too far by attempting to bring under your control organisations that speak for the media and journalists.
 
It seems that my meeting with you in your office in Juba a week ago, though cordial, appears to have failed to bring home the nature of my visit, since you followed this with a threatening directive to AMDISS and UJOSS barely 24 hours following our meeting, obviously a conclusion already arrived at even before the meeting.

AMDISS is an Association for Media Development in South Sudan, fully responsible and legally answerable to its Executive Board of Directors, which is composed of executive editors of independent media houses. To claim authority over AMDISS by "South Sudan Media Authority" is to attempt to rob independent media of what is legitimately their arm.

In that role of media development, AMDISS has worked with the SPLM of John Garang since its formation in 2003 and with the Government of Southern Sudan/South Sudan since 2005. The media laws, spearheaded by AMDISS and international partners, were jointly developed with South Sudan's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. But, how and why what was intended in the media laws as a body responsible for frequencies and spectrum distribution for broadcast media has metamorphosed into a “Media Authority” for total control of anything mentioning media remains to be made clearer.
 
Both the Union of Journalists for South Sudan and Association of Media Women in South Sudan AMWISS, stand as realised objectives of AMDISS in developing media in South Sudan.
 
Most importantly, the establishment of Media Development Institute, MDI, currently in AMDISS premises and which has now started formal training of journalists, should be a further reason to praise AMDISS efforts in developing media in South Sudan, instead of “Media Authority” questioning “the legality and authority” of AMDISS to form such an institute. If not AMDISS, who else? The “Media Authority” did not even exist when these efforts to develop the media were made!
 
Under my long chairmanship of AMDISS, from its formation in 2003 to 2014, we had thought it necessary at a certain point to educate, through regular dialogue, our security forces on the important role of the media in national stability and development; we were grateful that many top officers in the police and security were extremely cooperative and much understanding was in progress.
 
Now I hear the recently formed “Media Authority” has written to the National Security, seeking clarification of how AMDISS had come to organize and even chair some of these dialogue meetings. What is the harm in such a co-operation?
 

My final advice to brother Alier, Director of the Media Authority, is to please slow down a bit, for all of us to find a better way forward for our developing media and our country. Do not go overboard with the phrase, “Media Authority” and try to subjugate left and right what have been responsible bodies for over a decade. As they say, do not attempt to kill the goose that lays the golden egg, for you may end up with out a single egg.      

*Jacob J Akol is Chief Editor of Gurtong Media.

 

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