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Comment: Stop gagging private media

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Attempts to gag the independent media are akin to efforts to gag media freedom and this does not bode well for the country’s development.

The World Bank, in a study entitled: The Right to Tell, The Role of the Mass Media in Economic Development notes the link between a free, vibrant, independent media and economic development.

Unlike the State-controlled media that is wont to disseminate information from an official perspective, the independent media investigates and exposes corruption at high levels.

In the study, the World Bank observes that where the State media dominate, corruption is “likely to flourish in the absence of an aggressive watchdog, free and independent media”.

It is not surprising therefore that government officials and politicians who make it their business to gag the independent media have skeletons in their cupboards.

The cost is seen through a stagnant and under-performing economy because when corruption is the order of the day, businesses suffer and foreign investors get discouraged.

Stifling the independent media is tantamount to stifling transparency and accountability.

Independent media freedom is essential because it exposes graft at high level thereby discouraging politicians and high-ranking government officials from engaging in such nefarious activities that harm the nation.

An environment that encourages the independent media to operate freely promotes political participation and accountability.

Those who are not comfortable with free media want to manipulate information so that the media is reduced to a megaphone for their personal interests.

In an environment where State media dominates, studies have shown that there are negative socio-political and economic developments that include poor governance, reduced financial markets and poor education. Healthcare also suffers.

But those who advocate for the gagging of the independent media want the majority to believe that such media is unpatriotic to the extent of always reporting falsehoods against the government.

Theirs is a personal agenda disguised as a national cause. They want to own information so that the majority only get to know what they want them to hear.

They do not want their evil deeds which harm the nation to be brought to the fore. It is ironical that they want their harmful unpatriotic deeds to be swept under the carpet while they label those who want to unearth them unpatriotic.

The independent media question their corrupt activities and keep a keen eye on public policy by bringing into sharp focus government actions, and they hate this with a passion.

Free media always facilitates the voice of the people and opinions on governance and reform to be heard, something that does not augur well for powerful politicians and their acolytes whose major focus is to keep the status quo.

We should always be suspicious of characters with propensity to attack or ban independent media because theirs is an agenda driven by insatiable appetite for power and personal aggrandisement.

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