The Africa We Want Alliance: Covid19 response media release
This is the full statement:
The Africa We Want project Consortium, an alliance of prominent Civil Society Organisations (CSO) working to advance the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), is urging heads of states and governments in Africa to prioritise the safety of women, children, the aged, people with pre-existing medical conditions, and people with disabilities (PWDs) as well as ensure transparency in dealing with the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the continent.
The Civil Society Organisations collaborating in the project “Mobilising Civil Society Support for Implementation of the African Governance Architecture” include:
West African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (WACSOF), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (EACSOF), SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO) and Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI).
Prioritise support of vulnerable citizens
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart diseases are at higher risk of becoming severely ill with the virus.
Also, with almost every country in Africa ensuring either a total or partial lockdown, women, children, people with disabilities (PWDs), the poor and other primary beneficiaries in society will be plunged into extreme difficult situations as all their benefactors are unable to work or earn during these times.
Governments are therefore urged, firstly, to include in their response strategies to control the spread of the Covid-19, the provision of food and other forms of support to citizens. Secondly, when providing these forms of support, priority should be given to women, children, the aged, people with pre-existing medical conditions, people with disabilities (PWDs) and poor people.
Transparency, accountability, and information
Furthermore, in accordance with Article 12 (1) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) which enjoins Member States of the AU to ensure transparency and accountable governance, the CSO Alliance calls on the governments and heads of states to be transparent to their citizens in these crucial moments.
Governments must be open to disseminate information about the developments of the disease in their countries, measures adopted to control it and general progress of activities aimed at fighting against the pandemic.
The high infection rate of cases being recorded has given rise to misinformation and disinformation which eventually causes fear and panic as well as mistrust between citizens and state authorities. It is, therefore, eminent that governments set up or strengthen existing bodies to regularly provide updated information to the citizenry through the various mass media platforms.
Governance and enforcement within the rules
The CSO Alliance further urges Governments that while measures and directives are necessary in the fight against the pandemic, they should be exercised within the ambit of set rules and governance and enforcement should strictly be made within the set rules.
Citizens should comply
The CSO Alliance also urges citizens to comply with governments on the new directives that may be instituted to help fight the spread of the Covid-19, even though some of these measures may restrict their civil rights and freedoms. The disease has created a dire situation which requires drastic measures, and citizens must provide the needed support to their governments.
Media responsibility to report and check facts
Finally, we call on the media to demonstrate high levels of professionalism in reporting on the Covid-19. The media must report facts and complement the efforts of governments in countering misinformation and fake news. It is recommended that while covering the disease, the media must always consider the wellbeing, security, safety and order of society and not cause fear and panic.
Our heartfelt wishes to Heads of States
We, The Africa We Want, a Civil Society Organisations Alliance on African Governance Architecture (AGA) and African on Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) working on the project, “Mobilizing Civil Society Support for Implementation of the African Governance Architecture” extend our heartfelt wishes to Heads of States and Governments in Africa as they endeavour to contain and end the spread of the Covid-19 on the continent.
This statement is signed by the following organisations:
ActionAid Federation drawn from country offices including Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Gambia,
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA),
Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI),
West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF),
East African Civil Society Organizations’ Forum (EACSOF)
SADC Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC – CNGO)