Dr Sizwe MabizelaDr Sizwe Mabizela
Deputy Vice Chancellor,
Rhodes University

On behalf of our Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat, and the entire
Rhodes University community, I warmly welcome you all to the 17th
edition of the Rhodes University’s Highway Africa Conference.
Our University is privileged, once again, to host this important gathering
of media practitioners and scholars, journalists, and academics from across
the length and breadth of our continent and beyond. We are very proud of
the immense contribution of Highway Africa in creating a space and forum
for critical reflection and engagement on what it means to be a media
practitioner and scholar in the African continent. What started off as an adhoc
conference featuring just 65 delegates in 1996 has grown into a highly
prestigious conference and the most pre-eminent platform for journalists,
media practitioners and professionals, policy-makers and others to exchange
views and reflect on the challenges facing their profession and practice in
the African continent and beyond.
Over the years, the themes of this flagship conference of our university,
have sought to address contemporary and critical issues of the day such as
quality of journalism, the rise of citizen journalism, media and climate change
and Internet and democracy.
The 2013 theme, “Speaking truth to power? Media, politics and
accountability”, comes at an opportune time for the African continent. On
the one hand is the promising story of an Africa rising from shackles of
underdevelopment, colonialism and political subjugation and, on the other, a
persistent and depressing one of political instability and lack of transparency,
responsiveness and accountability on the part of those entrusted by their
electorate with political leadership. The story of rampant corruption, crass
materialism and self-enrichment by the political elite and the politically
connected reverberates across our continent.
Over the course of the next two days our speakers and delegates
will discuss how the media are implicated in the critical debates of how
we can build a culture of accountability in all sectors of our society. This
engagement speaks to one of the goals of Rhodes University which is
to produce graduates who are engaged, critical and democratic citizens
and ethical leaders committed to the service of humanity; graduates who
care about social justice, human right, human dignity and environmental
justice and who are prepared to be agents of social change and societal
The remarkable longevity of our conference is in no small measure
attributable to the unswerving loyalty and support of corporate South
Africa. Telkom, Barclays Africa and MTN have traversed this long journey
with us for many years. Our sincere appreciation goes to them. We are also
grateful for the support of Minister Edna Molewa, MP, and her staff in the
Department of Environmental Affairs.
The African Editors Forum (TAEF), Southern Africa Editors Forum
(SAEF) and the South African National Editors Forum (SANEF), through
their association with this conference, have given it prestige and dignity. We
thank these organisations for their association with our conference and for
the significant value they add to it.
The conference programme would not be this rich without the
support of various embassies, foundations, associations, trusts, civil society
organisations and colleagues from different departments of Rhodes
Finally, we wish thank all our speakers, trainers and delegates without
whom this conference would have remained in the realm of dreams and
wishful imagination.
We wish you all fruitful and enriching deliberations at the 2013
Highway Africa Conference.