The UN Country Team Hosts a Roundtable Discussion with the Media
29 October 2021
On Friday, 29th October 2021, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) hosted a UNCT-Media Roundtable Discussion at the Hilton Gardens Inn in Mbabane.
The purpose of the Media Roundtable, which was part of celebrations of UN Day, was to build on the already strong partnership between the UN Country Team (UNCT) and the media in Eswatini, taking advantage of the momentum built since 2019 through various media initiatives such as capacity building, advocacy, and partnerships. The UNCT/Media relationship is also critical in the context of the COVID-19 emergency, the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF 2021-205), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and clarifying the UN's role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
With technical assistance from the United Nations Communications Group (UNCG), the event commenced with a screening of a documentary on the journey of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Nathalie Ndongo-Seh, in her time in service in the Kingdom of Eswatini from December 2018 to October 2021: thus, the gathering was also used as a time for the UN Resident to bid farewell and in turn, reassure the media of the United Nations’ commitment to the people of Eswatini. Milestones documented included the UN’s transition from the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2016-2020 to the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2021-2025, as well as the growth of partnerships between the UN and the Media, the private sector, civil society and the Government of Eswatini.
Ms Ndongo-Seh provided an overview to the Media of the UN's history; the UN Reform, under the leadership of the UN Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, which seeks to improve the delivery of the UN mandate in all areas; as well as the mandates and functions of all 16 UN agencies operating in the Kingdom of Eswatini.
The Media were welcomed in a Question-and-Answer session to address the UNCT on all queries, following presentations by the UNCT on the specific roles of each UN agency.
Bheki Makhubu, The Nations' Editor, expressed concern that schoolchildren had lost two years of education due to COVID-19 and the subsequent civil unrest in Eswatini, stating: "We are about to lose a generation due to school closures, and I'm wondering what the UN is doing about it."
The UN Resident Coordinator highlighted that the safe return of children to schools is indeed a priority of the United Nations, highlighting that schools offer children at least one meal and a safe space away from domestic abuse. She continued that: "Children should be protected; it is the responsibility of parents and communities to do so. Digital learning has increased inequalities, so it is critical that we ensure that children return to school."
Eswatini Observer Editor, Mr Alec Lushaba, stated that the United Nations was the first organization in Eswatini to receive a petition from the people of Eswatini expressing their grievances, and continued to inquire why the United Nations was able to receive such a petition, without presenting a political stance.
The UN Resident Coordinator clarified that indeed, part of the UN’s work is to receive petitions expressing the voices and cries of the people, for whom the organization operates to support.
Through the commitment to Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and in turn, the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) 2021-2025, the United Nations is dedicated to the people of Eswatini in enabling a “just, prosperous and resilient Eswatini where nobody is left behind.”
Mr Mbongeni Mbingo, Chairperson of the Editor’s Forum, expressed his sincere gratitude to the UN Resident Coordinator and thanked her personally, for emphasizing the importance of the media in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Media remains a significant partner of the United Nations in its efforts to realise Agenda 2030.