The fourth estate

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It is true that your government has indeed guaranteed Freedom of the Press, and freedom of expression. People now express themselves and share their opinions freely without let or hindrance. We have indeed achieved ourselves a glorious victory on that front. This is good because it allows for citizens to share their thoughts with the government.

However, Mr President, allowing Press Freedom and being forthcoming with information are two different things. Many a reporter has complained of the fact that your officials are not willing to give out information to the press. The press is tasked by our constitution to hold the government to account and seek information for, and on behalf of the citizenry. If government officials are not willing to give information to journalists though, how are they going to do their work?

I have firsthand information about this as I co-host a radio talkshow which seeks to inform the general public about the goings-on in the country. This week, we wanted to talk about your speech at the United Nations and the delegation you traveled with. We contacted the Foreign Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Information Ministry and no one from these could give us information.

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It can be understood that there are cases where it is necessary to withhold information for various reasons one of which could be national security; but most of the time, the information sought should be public knowledge. When you or your ministers travel, it is paid for using taxpayers’ money and as such, the public have a right to know how their money is being spent and on what. Additionally, the public deserves to know how that trip will be of benefit to the nation.

It would appear that some of your functionaries are still not comfortable with total transparency. Let them understand that they are public servants and that they are accountable to us. We have a right to this information and as such when we seek it, it should be forthcoming.
Mr President, instruct your appointees to give information to the press when they need it. That is how accountability thrives. That is why the press is called the fourth arm of government.

Have a good day Mr President.

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