Washington could use the program to promote a pro-American agenda, a political scientist told RT © Douglas Rissing / Getty Images

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is planning to finance investigative journalism in South Africa, providing up to $8 million in funding over five years.

However, a political scientist has expressed concern that Washington could use the program to promote a pro-American agenda and combat the influence of China and Russia on the continent.

The funding program will cover Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa, it was announced earlier this month.

The program is officially aimed at improving the capability of media representatives to inform communities about crime and corruption at local, regional, and global levels.

“The purpose of the Southern Africa Regional Investigative Journalism Activity is to strengthen the capacity and collaboration among Southern African investigative journalists, editors and their newsrooms to produce investigative reports of local, regional, and global importance on crime and corruption, including its transnational dimensions,” according to a USAID document.

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Supporting investigative journalism ostensibly leads to greater accountability and transparency among state authorities in South Africa. USAID believes that the program will result in the creation of a new pool of media workers.

“The activity will cultivate a new and diverse cadre of investigative journalists in the region with expanded skills for reporting, editing and reaching audiences,” the program description states.

However, political scientist Ivan Mezyukho told RT that the US could use the program to promote a pro-American agenda in the southern African region.

“The US is concerned about the growing influence of Russia and China on the African continent,” Mezyukho said. Through USAID, Washington “will be releasing agents in the region to promote a pro-American agenda.”

Meanwhile, the French Foreign Ministry has decided to invest $5.5 million in French media annually to improve its media presence in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

RFI and France24 were left unable to operate in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger this year following government coups.