ANC rejects invite to Unisa media debate

2010-10-12 12:33

The ANC has turned down an invitation to attend a debate on media freedom hosted by the University of SA (Unisa) in Pretoria.

Julie Read, the organiser, announced at the start of the debate today that she had sent numerous letters of request to the office of the ANC to send a representative to Unisa’s Big Media Debate.

ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a letter written on October 6 that the party would not participate in the debate until after Parliament had debated the proposed media appeals tribunal.

“The ANC national general council held in Durban took a decision to forward the input on media appeals tribunal discussion to Parliament for parliamentary processes. We will be able to participate in debates after the parliamentary processes have unfolded,” he wrote.

Other speakers at the debate included the DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko, the Freedom Front Plus’ Pieter Mulder, academic Franz Kruger and Professor Guy Berger, head of the School of Journalism & Media Studies at Rhodes University.

Read said she found it difficult to understand the ANC decision not to participate in the debate. Mazibuko said the ANC had failed to show how the bills affecting media would help the poor.

She said there was a danger that the ANC was making the debate one of “the elite versus the ordinary”.

South Africans had a right to know how their government was performing and the proposed Protection of Information bill would limit that right, she argued.

Professor Danie Du Plessis, head of the Unisa Department of Communication Sciences, said the debate over the media appeals tribunal had a tendency to overshadow the debate on the Protection of Information Bill.

The debate over the two proposed bills was affecting how journalism schools were training their students, and Unisa planned to include the debate in future studies, he said.

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