Australian Journal of Cultural Studies
Vol. 1 No. 2, December 1983

Media Institutions and Communication Problems in Southern Africa

Peter Gerdes


Intelsat II, placed in orbit in 1967, was a communications satellite which made it possible to link (mainly by telephone) all African countries and the whole continent with Europe and Latin America. It seemed that Africa, 'the continent the world loves to forget,' where road and rail links, telephone connections, newspapers and television are still at a premium, could hopefully look forward to quickly entering the age of communication; a decisive step had been taken in closing the gap between the information-rich 'North' and the information-starved 'South' (cf. Hachten 1971:275.). These hopes were quickly shattered, however, when it was realised by potential user states that further use of satellites was basically out of the question: lack of finance on the one side and the know-how monopoly of the satellite industry on the other would make sure that African countries were once again placed in tutelage. They would either enter a deal with some of the industrialised nations and accept the use of satellites under their conditions (which would, for example, also mean accepting whatever software is offered) and so become once more colonised, or they would refuse or be unable to afford the dubious offer, and hence would find themselves relegated even further back into a state of information starvation.

Such feelings were loudly voiced during the UNESCO conference in Nairobi in 1976 when for the first time the by now famous 'North South conflict' was clearly formulated (cf. Gunter 1978; Masmound 1979- Fascell 1979). 'The new information order' and a demand for 'free flow of information' were terms which began to make headlines, but neither politicians, academics nor journalists could produce very useful definitions and suggestions as to the direction the debate should take. In 1977, UNESCO put the whole problem into the hands of an International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, made Sean MacBride President of this Commission and gave it a very simple mandate: 'to study the totality of communication problems in modern societies' (UNESCO 1980: xvii)—a strikingly naive formula symptomatic of the widely but wrongly held belief that 'communications' is the cure to mankind's problems. In 1980, Many Voices, One World, the so-called MacBride Report, was published. It was a valiant effort to come to grips with an impossible task: a report warmly welcomed by all those who believe that the communication industry, including the journalists, is ultimately responsible for the sorry state of this world, in particular for the imbalance in news-flow; a report more sceptically interpreted by the industry, and above all journalists, who pointed out that ideological differences had a lot to answer for, too. The debate didn't continue for long, and the problems, particularly in the Third World, continued. As Graham Watson put it, summing up the discussion of the north-south conflict: 'the amount of discussion of the problems seems to have been in inverse proportion to the steps taken towards actually solving them' (Friedrich Naumann Stiftung 1980: 7). Developed nations treat communication problems in the Third World very much along the lines of development aid: everybody agrees that it is necessary (for whatever political, economical, social or even moral reasons) but nobody wants to get involved; the few institutions and agencies which do provide some help at grassroots levels are a good enough excuse for the developed world as a whole to relax.

Considering its 45 nations and over 400 million inhabitants and its colonial history, Africa has always been the most poorly reported continent. The Vietnam conflict, the Japanese economic miracle and the Russian-Chinese tensions have put Asia definitely on the world's news map; Europe and the U.S. always ran the show anyway, and South America is close enough to the U.S. (and not even too far from Great Britain) to be worthwhile monitoring. Australia may in effect be even less represented in the world's media, but it has more desert than people and little to make headlines. With Africa it is a matter of 'out of sight, out of mind'; if it were not for the existence of South Africa with its unique policies, few people would notice the continent.

This is clearly reflected in the number of studies of communication problems in Africa. In introductory texts on Africa, like B. W. Hodder's Africa Today or J. Hatch's Africa Emergent not a word about Broadcasting, Mass Media or Communication can be found. Accelerated Development in Southern Africa contains over 34 papers presented at a conference held by the South African Institute of International Affairs in 1972. Participants did include experts from many African States (including Southern African states) but no one pointed to the importance of communications in development. More recently, in 1981, two African lecturers in economics published a textbook, Social and Economic Statistics for Africa, intended to 'introduce undergraduates ... to source material that is used extensively by practising statisticians in government and research organisations' (Kpedekpo and Arya, 1981: ix). Again, no reference to communications. The most comprehensive survey on African mass media is slowly getting out of date: W. A. Hachten's Muffled Drums very comprehensive and well-meaning, was published in 1971. This leaves us with the MacBride report and Katz and Jedell's Broadcasting in the Third World, both published in 1980, in which at least some up dated statistics can be found (cf. also Tunstall, 1977). Occasionally a useful publication referring to the news flow out of Africa appears, usually in connection with the investigation of the major news agencies' activities (which nationally as well as internationally play a big ger role in Africa than anywhere else in the world). Robert Bishop's detailed article in Journalism Quarterly, 'How Reuters and AFP Coverage of Independent Africa Compares', was published in 1975; Meier and Schanne's Nachrichtenagenturen im Internationalen System, 1980, provides the best introduction to the function of news agencies within an international communications network; the most recent study on the situation in Southern Africa, a concise examination of the role mass media have played in this part of the world in perpetuating a system of political, economic and cultural domination, is Phil Harris (1981).

Occasionally, 'Africa' also appears in an Australian study. Rodney Tiffen showed that in 1973, Africa received 3.89 % of foreign news space (1976:10). My own television news analysis revealed that in August, 1978, of 281 foreign items shown on Sydney's TV news, only four were concerned with Africa (Gerdes, 1980:49).

Africa's communication problems (particularly those concerning the news media to which I would like to address myself in the following) must be among the least researched in the world. African research establishments themselves have hardly had a chance to start their own investigations. Until not so long ago, whatever mass communication institutes there were very often copied—not always under duress—Western thinking. British, French and, inevitably, American textbooks were used although they are only of relative value in a continent where outside urban centres life has little in common with Europe or the U.S. New textbooks have yet to be written whilst at the same time the training of a new breed of communicators is of utmost urgency. Independence had its price: in developing the news media, as in so many other fields, most African nations have to help themselves since West and East show astonishingly little interest. (Although the terms 'nation', 'state', and 'country' are used interchangeably in this paper, I am aware that in Africa, the 'ethnic group' plays a major part in defining 'nationality'. Cf. Hodder, 1978:113, 148; Hachten, 1971:107-109). And yet, the history, economy, politics, and the social structures of this continent guarantee an abundance of problems. In order to keep up with its own developments and the 'progress' in the rest of the world, structures enabling news-flow, for instance, have to be improved urgently on four levels:

—within each nation

—between different nations within one region

—between different regions

—between Africa and the rest of the world.

To illustrate some of those problems, I would like to present the situation of the news media in Southern Africa. Although the world's attention at present is focussed on Central America, it cannot be stressed enough that the most volatile political situation does exist in Southern Africa, with claims by Southern African nations that South Africa is embarking on a large-scale de-stabilisation program and counter-claims by South Africa that its neighbours prepare for the 'total onslaught'. There exists in this region another unique, problem: the 'South African media threat', a threat emanating from a media giant surrounded by media dwarfs, and of equal if not greater danger than political, economic or defence threats which are regularly reported in the Western media. The countries most affected are those loosely linked in the 'Southern Pool' of the Pan African News Agency: Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. (Representatives of the African National Congress and the South-West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) also regularly attend the Pool's meetings.) I would like to present a short survey of the news media situation in those countries before dealing with the function of the Pan African News Agency, questions of training of journalists in the region, and the need for further research. (Namibia is not as yet a member of the Southern pool of PANA. But cf. Harris, 1981.)



Area: 600,000 km2, Population: 800,000, Independent since 1966.

No television, radio government controlled. Botswana Press Agency (BOPA) established in 1981. The agency has two telex machines. Only the government publishes papers, although invitations have gone out to attract private publishers. 'Daily News' (circulation of 18,000 copies with plans to increase to 30,000). 'Kutlwano', a monthly cultural magazine; 'Botswana', a bi-annual development oriented magazine. The main emphasis on news carried by BOPA is on development efforts made by the government. Foreign news comes via Reuters, AFP, BBC, SABC and ZBC. 70% of news carried is of local interest, 20% of regional and 10% of international interest.


Area: 30,400 km2, Population: 1 million, Independent since 1966.

No television, radio government controlled. No national news agency but UNESCO and PANA have been approached for help in establishing an agency. The Department of Information is responsible for the publication of two newspapers, the 'Lesotho Weekly' in English (1200), and 'Mochochonomo' in Sesotho (1300), both very urban oriented. These are relatively young newspapers compared to Church papers, both of which are over 100 years old: 'Moeletsi oa Basotho' ('Adviser of Basotho') is a Roman Catholic weekly (12,000) sold in Church missions throughout the country and among the Basotho mine-workers in South Africa. 'Leselinyana la Lesotho' ('Little Light of Lesotho') is a bi-monthly published by the Lesotho Evangelical Church and carries a certain amount of anti-government news from the exiled opposition Basutoland Congress Party.


Area: 118,000 km2, Population: 6.1 million, Independent since 1966.

No television radio government controlled. The Malawi News Agency (MANA), founded 1966, rents five telex machines from the Department of Posts and Communications. Each of the 24 districts of the country has an information officer who acts as a reporter and files stories to the regional centres and the capital by telephone or telex. Most journalists are university-trained. MANA distributes copy to the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and the privately-owned Blantyre Newspapers Ltd., the publishers of the 'Daily Times' (9,000) and the weekly 'Malawi News' (14,000). The Department of Information has several publications, among them 'This is Malawi' (10,000), 'Boma Lathu' (in the second official language; 50,000), and some smaller ones. The agency has a contract as well as a limited news exchange service with Reuters, and a loose news exchange agreement with AFP. These contracts are held by the government.


Area: 783,000 km2, Population: 10.1 million, Independent since 1975.

Radio and television government controlled. Official language is Portuguese but English and French are working languages. The Agence d'Information du Mozambique (AIM), founded 1975, receives and distributes more foreign copy than local copy. Main suppliers are all major non-Western agencies, ie., TANDUG, TASS, ADN, AGNOP, IPS, PRENSA LATINA and XINHUA. The agency has no correspondents in the provinces; all reporters are based in the capital Maputo but they regularly visit the provinces.

Main subscribers are radio and television and the two government run dailies, 'Noticias' (60,000) and 'Diario de Mocambique' (30,000), a weekly magazine and the Party's various journals. The government's policy on news content is an emphasis on the people's struggle and Africa's fight against imperialism, racism and apartheid.


Area: 17,000 km2, Population: 600,000, Independent since 1968.

Swaziland Broadcasting Service (radio and television) is government controlled but there is one privately-owned commercial radio station and one private, non commercial radio station. The country has no national news agency but has asked for assistance to establish one. The Swaziland Information Service gathers and distributes news in the country. Reporters are stationed in the capital Mbabane but visit the regions regularly. The biggest user of copy is radio which carries 12 news bulletins of ten minutes each daily. Although small, the country has five national publications: one daily, 'Times Swaziland' (20,000), two weeklies and two monthlies. The 'Times' and one monthly are privately owned. Main suppliers of foreign news are Reuters and SAPA. The main emphasis of all news is on socio-economic development.


Area: 750,000 km2, Population: 6 million, Independent since 1964.

Radio and television government controlled. The Zambia New Agency (ZANA) was established in 1969. It has offices in all urban centres and is represented at all provincial headquarters. All these stations are linked to Lusaka by telex. ZANA subscribes to Reuters AFP and TASS and its main users are the country's two dailies 'Times of Zambia' (government controlled; 60,000) and the 'Zambia Daily Mail' (government-owned; 30,000) as well as the 'Sunday Times' (65,000). Other main subscribers are the radio and television authorities and some of the regional newspapers, the most important one being the 'Mining Mirror' (40,000), a monthly, and the bi monthly 'Christian National Mirror'.


Area: 391,000 km2, Population: 6.5 million (European: 3.6%), Independent since 1980.

All news media are under the control of the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust which was established 'to facilitate, control and develop communication activities in the nation'. It consists of 'seven eminent citizens', among them a medical practitioner and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe. The Mass Media Trust also controls the Zimbabwe Inter-African News Agency (ZIANA) which was established in 1981. It has exchange agreements with AIM, PRENSA LATINA, TANDUG, ADN, SAPA, AP, and REUTERS and is the sole provider of foreign news copy to all radio and television stations as well as all papers, including the five major national publications: 'Chronicle' (33,000); 'Zimbabwe Herald' (75,900); 'Sunday Mail' (88,000); 'Sunday News' (30,000); 'Moto' (23,000).

For a comparison, some data on

South Africa

Area: 750,000 km2 (comparable with Zambia, Mozambique), Population: 30 million (European: 16%) (three times the population of Mozambique) Virtually independent since 1910.

Commercial press with a circulation of over one million copies daily in English and Afrikaans. Radio since 1920, run by the South African Broadcasting Organisation, television since 1976. Cf. Harris, 1981: 47-56; Hachten, 1971: 234-270.)

In 1971, neither Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho nor Swaziland had any newspapers. By 1983, all Southern African nations have their own newspapers (most of them controlled by government), all have government controlled radio stations, but Botswana, Lesotho and Malawi still have no television stations. (Television services in the other nations are government controlled, provide only a minimum of programming and usually only reach a small audience in the few urban centres there are.) National news agencies have become of ut most importance in providing effective news-flow within the region. This flow, however, is hindered by the lack of independent telecommunication facilities. Many countries in Southern Africa are dependent upon South African communication installations. Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland cannot communicate with the rest of the world without using South African channels. Malawi and Zambia have their own satellite earth stations and Zimbabwe uses microwave links with Zambia to reach the world (but, even so, Malawi has to use South African facilities to connect with Mozambique, Lesotho, and Swaziland). If any of the Southern African nations wants to contact West Africa, it has either to connect via South Africa or, in the case of Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique, via Europe! It would be very easy for South Africa to cut off international communications between many of its neighbours and the rest of the world should it desire to do so—a most important logistical factor in a potential theatre of war.


It is this and other, related dependencies (like the dependence upon mainly two Western news agencies, Reuters and AFP, for the importing and exporting of news) which determined the delegates at the Second Session of the Conference of African Ministers of In formation in Addis Ababa at its 1979 meeting to establish a Pan African News Agency (PANA) to function within the concept of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The establishment of an African news agency had initially been proposed by Ghana as early as 1953.

Some of PANA's stated objectives are:

to promote the aims and objectives of the OAU for the consolidation of the independence, unity and solidarity of Africa;

to give more information about and assist in the liberation struggles of peoples against colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism, apartheid, racism, zionism and all other forms of exploitation and oppression;

to work for the sub-regional and regional integration of African countries ...

to correct the distorted picture of Africa ...

to establish a Data Bank on Africa...

to promote in Africa the establishment of national newsagencies ...

to ensure the preservation and promotion of traditional oral, written and visual communications ...

(1979. Cf. also Katz and Wedell, 1978)

PANA has its headquarters in Dakar, Senegal, and regional Pools were established in Libya, Nigeria, Zaire, Sudan and Zambia. Once effective, this would mean for member countries of the Southern Pool with headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, that information would be transmitted to Lusaka and from there via satellite to Lagos, Nigeria and hence via cable to Dakar. Dakar would then distribute the copy to all other regional centres. Similarly, Southern Pool members would get information from other countries via Dakar and Lusaka.

In theory, the concept of 'act local, think global' is excellent and suits the needs for news-flow best; under present economic circumstances, however, the aims are most difficult to achieve. Not only is each of the seven nations suffering from a world-wide recession like everybody else, Southern Africa has also been in the grip of the worst drought ever. Money is scarce and hence the first important step towards independent telecommunication links between the seven Southern Pool nations will be threatened for a long time yet. Moreover, all regional Pools are suffering from similar problems and so PANA'S hopes that it 'would start operating at the end of 1982 with a daily service of 1000 words copy from member countries and an output of 25,000 words of copy in English, French and Arabic' (PANA 1982:18) have remained hopes so far. PANA itself suffers from severe financial problems. Although only 21 OAU members have ratified the PANA Convention, it receives subscription fees from 30 states; for the period 1979-1981, this totalled app. $1 million, but the budget for 1983 alone foreshadowed the need for $3.3 million with staff costs and 'personal emoluments' budgeted at $1.7 million.

PANA is still not functional, but the idea that self-help is the only reliable help has infected member countries and encouraged them to take stock and find ways and means to overcome some of their news-flow problems, at least on a regional level to start with. Seminars for editors and technicians have been arranged, data have been collected and common goals defined. One of these, for the Southern Pool countries, is to combat the 'South African Challenge'.


Of the seven Pool countries, only two do not share a common border with South Africa, Malawi and Zambia. That makes them slightly less susceptible to media interference by South Africa Mozambique's one useful defence is to have an official language different to the ones used by its neighbours. Zimbabwe is still very vulnerable as far as South African influence is concerned—the political similarity between the two countries only ended three and a half years ago. However, the Zimbabwe government has the long established news media firmly under its control through the Mass Media Trust, and it can rely to some extent on the assumption that its having achieved independence only recently in spite of strong South African media interference (for details, see Harris, 1981) is solid proof that the population has become fairly hardened against outside opinion. Worse off are the relatively smaller and more ex posed countries of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

I would like to illustrate the South African media threat by giving some evidence of what is happening in Lesotho and Botswana. (I am indebted to Mrs. L. M. Akhionbare, director of information, Lesotho, and Alandin S. Osman, chief press officer, Botswana News Agency, for some of this information.) Lesotho is an independent kingdom and an enclave in South Africa. It regards itself as one of the major targets of South Africa's 'destabilisation' policy, mainly because of Lesotho's refusal to recognize the South African Bantustans and because it shelters what it calls South African refugees. Pre-independent Lesotho had neither a radio station nor its own newspaper, so the present day reliance on South African papers and radio is a long-standing one. Radio Lesotho was established in 1964 on the eve of independence in order to mobilise and educate a na going to the polls to vote for its freedom. Due to staff shortages, Radio Lesotho's bulletins carry more international news received from Reuters than local news. This in turn reduces the station's popularity since up-to-date bulletins on regional and local affairs can be heard on South African stations. 'Radio Sesotho' is controlled by the South African Broadcasting Corporation. It used to be call ed 'Radio Bantu' and carried programs aimed at the Sesotho people. It now carries more news about Lesotho—collected in Lesotho by South African journalists—than about the Sesotho. This and the change of name can easily result in a confusion of listeners as to the source of the information they receive.

South African journalists apply for accreditation to cover Lesotho. This is valid for one year. Lesotho itself has not as yet applied for a similar accreditation in South Africa although it plans to do so if only 'so that we can react similarly to their journalists' (Proceedings, 1982:62). One may wonder what will happen to the concept of 'free flow of information' under these circumstances. 'Radio Lesotho' in turn started broadcasting UN Anti-Apartheid programs beamed at South Africa. It is such actions which South Africa interprets as being part of the 'total onslaught' policy developed by its adversaries. This may sound like an ordinary propaganda war but then one must not forget that here a media Goliath is fighting a media David with little experience and who, moreover, is dependent upon Goliath's good-will for his communication links with the rest of the world.

Botswana is another country geographically and economically bound to South Africa. Magazines, books and films are freely available in the whole country. At present there is no commercial press nor are there any special rural newspapers. The government publishes only a dual language four-page tabloid-style daily paper with a circulation of 12,000. It also runs 'Radio Botswana' which has to broadcast with a very weak signal. But the country is surrounded by foreign transmitters, the most powerful being those of 'Springbok Radio'. There has always been a proliferation of commercial radio stations beaming programs into Botswana from the Bantustans of Bophutatswana and Transkei.

What is particularly interesting is the spread of television in a country which has no television station. Many homes in Botswana's capital Gaborone have a black and white set; in hotels one finds col our sets, and they are all tuned to South African television. The man who made it all possible is Joachim Sarmento Costa, a true believer in free enterprise, who since the early 70's has been trying to pick up a South African television signal. In 1976, he bought a transposer with a 35 decibel amplifier with which he finally managed to catch a clear signal from Johannesburg, boost it and beam it within a seven kilometre radius. Costa improved his transposer using solar rather than battery power and by 1978 the city had about 500 sets and a booming television sales, service and maintenance industry. Costa and five others formed the 'TV Owners' Association' to raise money for even better equipment. At present, the signal output is of 3 watts enough to pick up a clear image within a 40 kilometre radius from that one privately owned booster outside the capital of Botswana ... and at least 4000 sets are in operation. Alaudin Osman, Chief Press Officer of the Botswana Press Agency, has investigated some of the reactions of government and people alike. Most viewers seem to realise that they are exposed to South African propaganda but they think they are quite able to separate fact from fiction. What they do find dangerous is the effect on children:

South African television is based on one thing—colour. The Black person is hardly ever—if at all—depicted in a positive and dignified role ... most of our children will want to conform to the lessons that they are getting on TV. They will begin to have a 'White' mind. So, they begin to believe that it is a good thing not to see a Black face on the screen. And if these kids go to the cattle post, they won 't be able to see eye-to-eye with the herd boy, simply because herd boys are not depicted on TV.

And the reverse holds true, too:

(White) children do not see Black children on TV... It is an exclusive concept of the racial component of the society.

Some people consider an overdose of South African propaganda dangerous for two specific reasons: one, that people have become so attracted to television that they won't even listen to the local radio news bulletins any more but rather wait for the 6 pm TV news bulletin from Johannesburg; and secondly, that the government is likely to become complacent and argue that particularly under present economic circumstances there is no need to go ahead with plans for a local TV station since people can already receive some TV programs. One thing is certain: the Botswana government has accepted the fact that television viewing, albeit programs from an 'unfriendly' neighbour, is here to stay. What it may not realise fully as yet is the consequences of this attitude.

The South African media threat is, of course, not limited to those countries just mentioned. South Africa uses its media superiority to present its own view about its neighbours to its own people and it also tries to mobilise public opinion in the neighbouring Southern African states against those states. It is easy for South African journalists to move and work freely in surrounding countries but it is not easy for a black journalist to become accredited in South Africa. And although there is definitely a press in South Africa which takes a strong stand against apartheid, Southern African journalists justifiably distrust any South African media: It was observed that the belief that the English language press in South Africa was more progressive than the Afrikaans language press is a myth. The fact was that both represent the ruling class which wants to perpetuate white minority rule. The only difference was that the Afrikaans were more crude in their approach than the English whose approach is more subtle (Proceedings 1982:9). To fully establish their independence, all nations must have free access to information which means, among other things, to be link ed to communication networks which cannot be censored by any other nation. So far, South Africa has indeed not used its potential power to cut off any of the Southern African states. But the power is there, so much of it that a more or less subtle demonstration of media superiority has become a part of South Africa's policies. To gain more technical independence, the seven nations will have to wait for funds wherever they may come from. What they can hardly wait for is the training of their future journalists.


Communicators in this region are working hard at this problem with the help of UNESCO, PANA and some European foundations. Training proceeds on several levels: universities, colleges and on a more grassroots level in the establishments of development aid agencies. However, so far only three of the seven countries can offer fully established training facilities.

Zimbabwe's Institute of Mass Communications was established in 1981 and in 1982 had an intake of 40 students. It concentrates on education in newspaper journalism, radio broadcasting and production and radio technical operations. (It is worth noting here that television training has a low priority in all training centres; only Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe have their own television stations and their output is limited and reaches only urban areas. In regions where illiteracy is widespread—when the Portuguese left Mozambique in 1975, the country had an illiteracy rate of 95%!—radio is the most important medium; film can play an important educational role where films can be produced but newspapers are still regarded as the standard providers of information. Cf. Hachten, 1971:277-278). Mozambique is particularly active in the area of film. Thirteen projection trucks are continuously travelling through the country (the so-called 'cinema novel') shooting educational and entertainment films suited to each particular audience. Since 1975, the Institute Nasional de Cinema has actively produced a large number of documentaries and educational films in 1979 its first feature film 'Mueda, memoria e massacre'. See also Tages-Anzeiger, Zurich, October 24, 1981:55.

Zambia trains journalists at the Evelyn Hone College, the African Literature Centre, the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication and the University of Zambia Department of Mass Communication Some courses are offered by the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation and, in the rural areas, by some Church groups. But alternative techniques to disseminate news and knowledge are only all too easily forgotten when development is equated with having to live up to Western standards. Particularly in Africa, theatre arts (drama dance, puppetry, masks and songs) are in many areas much more relevant to the tastes and needs of the people. Extension workers in health, agriculture, nutrition, literacy and social work are much better off using the performing arts as a technique of informal education than relying on purely modern audio-visual aids (cf., for instance, Theatre for Development, proceedings of a regional workshop sponsored by the Zambia International Theatre Institute Lusaka 1979.)

Until recently, Mozambique suffered from the unusual problem of having a considerable number of offers from overseas training positions which could not be taken up because of the difficulty of finding suitable candidates who met the required specifications. Since 1980, Mozambique has its own Maputo School of Journalism, and this year an International School of Journalism for Portuguese speaking journalists has opened in Maputo under the auspices of PANA.

Depending on the initiative and, to some extent, the financial circumstances, other governments of the region may send students either to Zambia or Zimbabwe or other African institutions where journalists are trained. African universities offering degrees in journalism are: America University and Cairo University in Egypt; Four universities in South Africa (for Whites only); University of Dakar, University of Nigeria at Nsukka; University of Madagascar; University of Lagos; University of Nairobi; University of Ghana at Legon; University of Cameroon; National University of Zaire (Proceedings, 1982: 16).

The Lesotho Ministry of Information has no training program and, due to lack of finances, fills all posts with untrained personnel. Malawi, on the other hand, has had journalists trained at the Thomson Foundation Institute in Cardiff, the University of Nairobi, at the Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi and at several West German universities.

Problems with training occur on three levels: the trainees, the trainers and the training content. As far as the region of the Southern Pool is concerned, there is no shortage of potential trainees. Students with an aptitude and interest in mass media and an adequate academic background are aplenty. It is much more difficult to find good trainers with both academic qualifications and sufficient practical media expertise. There is a great need for in-service courses to train the trainers. The training content usually consists of three parts: languages, social sciences, including history and socio-politics, and aspects of communication. However, according to the Head of the Department of Communication at the Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka, K. J. Philip, the present state of training is still far from satisfactory:

The nature of training of journalism in Africa ... cannot be in the lines of training in the west. And, yet, sadly enough, by and large, it is so. The big temptation in most countries is to bring experts from the western countries and to establish training institutions. These experts import western models of training and produce journalists who do not fit the requirements of the country. Another program is to send prospective journalists to western universities to do their Masters degrees or doctoral degrees and then come and establish training institutions. This is in no way better than the former. Combined with these two is the importation of western text books, and models of research to base the training of journalists on them. Journalism training in most African countries, though established basically, is neither effective nor appropriate for these reasons (Proceedings, 1982:91).

Philip himself proposes that Africa should strengthen what he calls

development journalism [which] should mean the cultivation of an awareness in the people towards understanding national development issues. To ensure that development journalism is obtained, three factors are necessary:

expand the mass media so that they reach the people in rural areas;

increase the output of development information; and,

train development communicators (Proceedings, 1982: 19).

The stress is on communicators rather than reporters or journalists, people who can formulate and present an issue within the cultural context of the society they are working in and for, to produce 'an authentic message of their own' (Katz and Wedell, 1978:23) destined more for local, perhaps national consumption but not smartened up to fit the style-sheets of international news agencies.

At a recent meeting, the Southern Pool's sub-committee on the training of journalists made some poignant observations which provide an excellent insight not only into problems of training but also of appointing and motivating journalists:

due to unsatisfactory working conditions in the media, trained journalists join PR organisations and the Civil Service where salaries are higher, promotions faster and management-caused frustrations are less.

existing local training programs and levels are not sufficient

the old British idea that journalists are born not trained, is still very strong. New ideas and academically trained young journalists are resisted.

political appointees are usually unable to carry out the required tasks ...

projects for overseas funds are written to suit the donors ...

in-service training is not used widely enough as basic training with the media organisations.

up-grading courses are haphazard and are organised by international organisations.

A coherent overall training development plan does not exist (Draft report of the Subcommittee of PANA Southern Pool on the training of Journalists, Haran, Sept. 1982: 2).

Whatever method of training will ultimately be used, those in power expect to produce a 'new breed of committed journalist', a 'journalist who knows the problems and priorities of this region who understands the contradictions at work and the balance of forces ... who would walk with the people not as a separate entity but as one of them.' (Proceedings 1982:107) Whether this new journalist will also be prepared to improve the 'free flow of information' bet ween Africa and the rest of the world remains to be seen. In all seven countries of the Southern Pool, the government is trying to instil a strong socialist ideology; journalists are expected to serve a cause and that inevitably means to serve the government and the Party. As a Senior Lecturer of the Zimbabwe Institute of Mass Communication put it: . . . in the Third World trying to develop rapidly (his stress) the Government has to be involved in the establishment and organisation of the media and also in the defining of communication policies ... after establishing them the government cannot easily give them away to a commercial body not dedicated to national development and the consolidation of independence . . . one is not normally expected to plan a policy for something one does not own or control ... (Proceedings, 1982:68).

This apologetic attitude has little to do with John Hughes' idea that 'newspapers have a responsibility to prepare their readers for social change... editors have a responsibility to produce newspapers that are more relevant to society's needs; that have more depth ...' (Quoted in UNESCO 1980:60). In this concept there is at least room for the concept of a journalistic conscience. President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia certainly has little time for such ideas. In a long address given at the opening of the Mass Media Complex in Lusaka in 1982, he clearly described and defined his concept of journalism:

I want to see journalism develop as a free, competent and effective profession fully committed to the revolutionary humanist transformation of the six million people of this country ... the journalist himself must be one hundred per cent a militant humanist revolutionary . . . The Party has at all times to offer good political leadership and advice to journalists. If these burdens are not borne well, our humanist revolution will be saddled with a proliferation of useless and in some cases even harmful journalists ... the Party and the Government have supervision over all these key areas of journalism in the nation... (Times of Zambia Oct. 22, 1982).

This inevitably means that the situation as Hachten perceived it in 1971 will continue to exist:

For the present, authoritarian is a better term to describe the controls on most news media. These controls are often more implied than applied and are seldom if ever totalitarian. But they are real ... Lurking behind the newsman is the potential restraint of government... (Hachten 1971:46).

Whether this fear of government interference is a high price to pay for independence or not is hard for a Westerner to judge. At a time when any further development of broadcasting technology means further colonialism, Southern African states must be allow ed to find their own defence mechanisms, using whatever technology there is and transmitting whatever content they feel may help to maintain their shaky independence (Hachten, 1971 :39; Katz and Wendell 1978). Governments in this region can do nothing to stop the advance of technology, and when they realise how the technology-gap widens almost daily, their sense of frustration, anger and desperation makes them impose their ideas, where they can, upon the journalists. It is a matter of 'we cannot change the hardware but we can control the software.' When Kenneth Kaunda opened the Mass Media Complex in 1982, he spoke of the people of Zambia having 'sacrificed 44 million Kwacha (app. $80 million), a great sacrifice on the part of the people. It is a challenge to the journalists ... the people must get service value for their money. Nothing less can be accepted.' At the same gathering, the chief engineer of the Zambia Broadcasting Services had to admit openly 'that some of the equipment at the complex had already been overtaken by new developments but nothing could be done as the new machines were not included in the initial contract for the complex' and that 'the new mass media complex will not improve radio reception until new transmitters are bought' (Zambia Daily Mail, Oct .19, 1982).

The Mass Media Complex in Lusaka has been Japanese designed and built. It houses the radio and television broadcasting services the Zambian news agency, film studios and laboratories. Plans were drawn up in 1975, a Japanese loan signed in 1976 and building started in 1979. It is fitted with equipment which is sophisticated but already obsolete. All filming facilities, including those for news-gathering are geared for 35 mm film, video facilities run on 2" tapes, Its building has 22 radio studios (two of which are big sound studios) and two big television studios. Only a few technicians have been train ed in Japan; the lack of qualified personnel will almost certainly pre vent the full use of all facilities. Zambia is totally dependent on Japan for spare parts and since the country is short of hard currency, a relatively minor failure can turn into a permanent breakdown. The Mass Media Complex is a massive demonstration of technological colonialization: it is practically owned by and only runs thanks to the Japanese. And the financial drain on Zambia has been such that there is hardly any room left for the development of really essential communication networks within the country.


Technology and ideology both prevent—for the time being—a 'new information order' from being established in Southern Africa. Under present circumstances, a 'free flow of information' may be achieved among the Southern Pool nations but certainly not with South Africa—there is no freedom of the news media on both sides. But improvement of communications in Southern Africa is possible and would be greatly helped if more applied research were forthcoming. The chapter on 'research' is, typically enough, the shortest in the MacBride report (UNESCO 1980:223-26). The sub-committee on training I have already referred to has made some recommendations for intensive research in the following areas:

—the nature and evolution of communication policies—relationship between the state and the media

—mass media assessment survey

—traditional modes of communication—women in media

—rural press

—duplication in media work

—use of modern media technology—media content analysis

—the impact of the media on audience

—role of foreign news agencies in the region

—the same committee felt also that 'research in the region should be co-ordinated by a regional professional body in the form of a Southern African Mass Communications Association' (Draft Report 1982:3).

And to what extent do these problems concern us in Australia? Australia's attitude, if there is any, towards Southern Africa is rather ambiguous. On the one hand, an Australian government was instrumental in bringing about independence for Zimbabwe; in the community and in the government feelings about South Africa's policies are very strong (though whether it is absolutely true that 'no Australian newspaper (publishes) racist material' [The Sharpener, Dec. 1981: 2] may be doubted; chauvinism as displayed by the Australian media during the Commonwealth Games could also be seen as a form of racism. Cf. Tatz, Weekend Australian, Oct. 9, 1982) News flow, at least in the print-media, has certainly improved since Tiffen worked on his analysis, but there is little evidence that either professionals or academics in the field would really want to get involved in the region's communication problems.

Development aid could consist of practical proposals as to how literacy could be improved speedily, how traditional modes of communication could be exploited further, whether all the existing modern media are really put to their best use and how their use and function could be improved without financially ruining a country. Flexible research models should be offered as well as some initial help in setting up urgently needed updated analyses of information flow in and out of Southern Africa.

Anyone who feels strongly about South Africa's racial policies can do no better than help all Southern African nations to be heard in South Africa and around the world. I would consider this as one of the more difficult tasks facing communicators today.


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