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IBSA: Coverage of Economic Body Vital for Development

Zukiswa Zimela

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 18 2011 (IPS) - As the India Brazil and South Africa Summit of heads of state and government starts Tuesday, editors from the respective countries have resolved to provide better coverage of the economic body.

“This meeting was very important and critical. As we know there has been a major shift in the world in terms of economic power, political power and so on towards the south and the countries of India, South Africa and Brazil have become very important players in the world,” South African Editors’ Forum (SANEF) chair Mondli Makhanya said Monday as editors met at the IBSA Editors’ Forum in Johannesburg.

The forum was co-hosted by SANEF and Inter Press Service Africa in conjunction with the World Bank and the South African department of Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS).

Members of the editors’ forum will be among the “people to people” organisations presenting their recommendations to the IBSA Heads of State and Government Dialogue Forum in Pretoria on Oct. 18.

Makhanya said it was important that IBSA received relevant and sufficient coverage and it was vital for the three countries to tell their stories to the rest of the world.

“So the purpose of today was to put in place infrastructure and a framework within which we are able to communicate those kinds of messages without the media being a spokesperson for the respective governments,” he said.

Jimmy Manyi, chief executive officer of GCIS, said the South African government was interested in working with the editors. He added that the way IBSA was portrayed by the media would affect the way other countries engaged with the economic group.

“If we continue not to talk about our agenda it means people will know less and less about us and we would really like this forum to be a stepping stone to promoting and marketing the three countries among ourselves and with the north as well,” he said.

He said that the relationship between the countries could be more than economical. Manyi said that there is a wealth of information to be shared by the trio and the media could help disseminate this information.

“What are the opportunities around education? What are the trade skills we can assist each other with? Because from time to time we have skills gaps so we have to piggy back on each other to make sure that we are as skilled as (the other countries),” he said.

Lola Nayar, the associate editor of Outlook magazine in India, agreed saying the countries can work together to share information on important issues like climate change mitigation strategies. Nayar said that in the field of energy and agriculture the three countries where looking at similar issues.

“India has become a major player in wind energy and in solar power energy and these are technologies it could share with South Africa,” she said.

Claudia Antunes, foreign affairs editor at Folha de Sao Paulo in Brazil, said that the three countries have to commit to speaking in a unified voice in order to achieve their goals. “IBSA as a group lacks a strong personality,” she said.

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