Johannesburg - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe has highlighted the media, government, civil society and private sector should make sure the country's citizens were a priority.Opening the African Media Leaders Forum in Boksburg on President Jacob Zuma's behalf, Radebe stressed the importance of a free press and the media's role as a watchdog."It should play its watchdog role without fear, favour nor prejudice," Radebe said.He said the media had to defend the development progress made thus far. It also had to challenge the various stakeholders to act in a manner putting people first and contributing meaningfully towards socioeconomic development.He said the group coming together at the forum would never have been able to do so under the apartheid regime."We owe this freedom and democracy to the militancy of the media practitioners and leaders from across the globe; the sacrifices of our fellow African brothers in Africa and diaspora and all peoples of the world who actively stood up against apartheid chauvinism."Radebe said it was common knowledge under apartheid a culture of secrecy, disinformation and restrictions on press freedom was a norm.According to Radebe, the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) had been used effectively over the years by journalists and others to defend this right.He said government believed the act opened the doors for the implementation of other rights.On how the positivity towards press freedom and the looming media appeals tribunal would work in conjunction, Radebe told Netwerk24 the tribunal needed to be seen "in perspective". There still needed to be a parliamentary enquiry into the "feasibility and desirability" of such a tribunal."I think we should wait for that parliamentary process to unfold before we can... jump to conclusions."