Sat - 23.09.2017

South Africa debates media controls

South Africa debates media controls

The South African government is debating the role of the press and government control over keeping federal information secret after the country's ruling political party, the African National Congress, has backed proposals to tighten controls on the media, Reuters Africa reported yesterday.

The proposed tribunal would control print media in order to "enhance accountability and improve reporting," a senior ruling party official said, the article explained. The Media Appeals Tribunal would investigate complaints against print media, and decide on punishments when it deems irresponsible reporting has taken place, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Image: ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu. Photo via Times Live

Media groups have denounced the ANC's proposition, saying the tribunal is an attempt by the party to stop investigative reporters who expose corruption in the one-party ruled government, according to Reuters.

Over the weekend, 37 newspapers voiced their dismay over the ANC "clampdown" at an event called the "Auckland Park Declaration," reported.

"Unfortunately, we believe the crackdown on the media being encouraged by parts of government, some in the ANC and probably influential 'tenderpreneurs' and predatory elites is not aimed at improving the quality and responsibility of the media, or making it more equal," they said, according to the report. "Instead it is aimed at hiding corruption, frustrating accountability and covering up service delivery failure."

The ANC's national spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, disagreed.

"There shouldn't be one group of people called the media who can rubbish you, who can defame you and you have no recourse," he said, according to the WSJ.

In an opinion article, Times Live writer Al-Ameen Kafaar wrote that the real problem the ANC should be targeting is media ownership.

"The ANC had the opportunity 16 years ago to ensure real media diversity. Instead of deconstructing, it preferred the fallacy that a media left to market forces would ensure diversity," he stated. "There is a symbiotic relationship between mainstream media and big business that negates freedom of expression. Big business buys mainstream media silence and the true community media voice is battling to survive."


Leah McBride Mensching


2010-08-11 15:57

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