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AIJC2021: The challenges we face

African investigative journalists have been shaken back-and-forth in their quests to exposing wrongdoing daring their daily duties_impeded by inward or outward hurdles including financial challenges, access to information, and being spied.

African Investigative Journalism Conference 2021 premiered virtually from 5 cities (Dakar, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Abuja, and Addis Ababa), journalists attempted to elaborate on most challenges that African journalists are facing along with other issues.

In the African Investigative Journalism Conference 2021 that premiered virtually from 5 cities (Dakar, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Abuja, and Addis Ababa), journalists attempted to elaborate on most challenges that African journalists are facing along with other issues.

it streamed live from the 11th of October to the 15th of October 2021 with small grouped journalists in-person.

On the 12th of October, 2021, South African journalists exposed some main challenges they encounter in their work- which is seemingly shared with other parts of the continent_ and what they are doing about it.

Adriaan Basson, Editor at Media 24 said that intelligence agencies have stepped up to refrain journalists from investigating when they have a credible information, police officer went forward by trying to find sources to silence them.

“Crime intelligence units are supposed to provide to the police with intelligence on crime being planned or criminal syndicates being used to distort information or peep on the work of journalists”, said Adriaan.

He added that Media 24 journalists have been spied for the last years.

In addition, he said, it is difficult to find out that investigators have been spied by intelligence agencies since there are no physical proofs.

Apart from that Basson stressed out that access to sources has become a headache as police officers are always trying to intercept sources.

“We have been challenged by police interference to our cause by trying to threaten people who would be open to giving us information”, said Adriaan Basson.

Again, he said, it is difficult to meet sources and have human interaction for an investigative journalist. In most cases people are scared depending on the subject you are investigative on. They are sensitive to meeting in person, he concluded.

As a solution he cleared out that journalists need to be smart and creative to have human interactions successful.

As for Samantha Pilane General Manager of INK centre Botswana, his newsroom relies on people’s goodwill who come to present what they have.

Thanduxola Jika, Investigations Editor at Sunday Times pointed out the access to information held by government official or politicians has been another problem that journalist meet on daily basis.

“State-owned entities along with national treasury organizations shrink from our microphones. They are reluctant to providing information in case of emergency fund, contracts awarded, money spent or simply third-party information”, he said.

Not only journalists are being impeded while filing their investigative stories as gathering clues is concerned but also media outlets encounter financial problems as mainstream entities give little attention to investigations.

 Jika said that there is little or no effort in funding investigative beats as no enough resources available such as field visits, training young talents to be capacitated to do investigative journalism_ few experienced journalists.

Further, Basson explained that no investment in sustainable investigative journalism which leads to a risk of dropping out afterwards due to lack of motivation.

However, audiences need or want better fruit of investigative journalism where there is no enough means to conduct it effectively.

For Samantha Pilane General Manager of INK centre Botswana, a good piece of investigative journalism requires much money. A sateliite imagery only can cost around 5,000USD.

Among other challenges she added physical threats, breaking in offices, and journalists being bullied by police officers.

Asked about career advice, panellists converge on the new blood and new generation of investigative reporters through training along with empowerment _specially home-grown effort_ if not democracy will gradually die.

The main challenges that South African media outlets are facing are shared with Burundian journalists including sources accessibility, lack of funders, and journalists being followed by intelligence service.

However, as of today only Iwacu press group seemed to be the only independent media outlet with limitations due to warnings. Other media houses have been shut down in 2015 ahead of a failed coup of late Pierre Nkurunziza.

Since then, newsroom have never ventured again in investigation pieces. Yet, corruption, organized crime, human trafficking, and other illegal activities have increased.

Experts have been crying out, calling over journalists to uncover the hidden truths on illicit financing, mining contracts, poaching, and killing driven politics.

Espoir Iradukunda
Espoir Iradukunda
Data Investigative Journalist


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