Zackie Achmat to speak at World Press Freedom Day celebration
The well-known aids activist and former chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), will be a speaker at a celebration of World Press Freedom Day of the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University (SU) on Thursday 3 May.
The event will take place barely two weeks before the National Council of Provinces seeks to finalise the so called Secrecy Bill, or the Bill on the Protection of State Information.
The event is to be held at 17:00 in the auditorium of the J.S. Gericke Library of SU’s Stellenbosch Campus. The political analyst and researcher, Dr Mcebisi Ndletyana, will also make a speech at the event.
The United Nations General Assembly declared 3 May to be World Press Freedom Day in 1993, to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression. This marked the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of free press principles put together by African newspaper journalists in 1991. This year the theme is “New Voices: Media Freedom helping to Transform Societies.” The recent uprisings in some Arab States have highlighted the power of media and the human quest for freedom of expression. This has given rise to an unprecedented level of media freedom.
Achmat will speak on the topic “Politics and Press Freedom in South Africa”. Under his leadership the TAC is credited with forcing the reluctant government of President Thabo Mbeki to begin making antiretroviral drugs freely available to all South Africans. He became an ordinary TAC member in 2009. Since then he directed his efforts towards assisting people displaced by xenophobic violence and he joined others to found the Social Justice Coalition (SJC). He also helped found the social justice movement Equal Education. Furthermore, as a member of Open Shuhada Street, Achmat works directly with Palestinians and Israelis resisting the occupation through non-violent means. Today he serves as director of Ndifuna Ukwazi, a non-profit organization that aims to build and support social justice organisations and leaders.
Achmat has won numerous awards, as well as being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Sussex University.
Dr Ndletyana holds a PhD in political science from the University of Witwatersrand. He is a former senior research specialist at the Democracy and Governance Research Programme of the Human Sciences Research Council and at present he is head of the political economy faculty at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (Mistra).
The Department of Journalism inaugurated as part of the University’s HOPE Project a cutting edge new wing, the MEDIAFRIKA centre in 2011. This enables the department to equip the next generation of journalists on honours and masters degree level to face future challenges, including the threat to media freedom. The HOPE Project is a campus wide initiative through which SU uses its teaching, research and community interaction expertise to create sustainable solutions for some of the most pressing challenges in South Africa and Africa.
- Liaise with Willemien Brümmer at tel 021 808 2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the event.