Mbete calls for ‘critical but constructive’ media

2015-02-12 17:47

The media are the eyes and ears of democracy, Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the National Assembly, said today at a lunch ahead of tonight’s state of the nation address by President Jacob Zuma.

“As our eyes, the media make us aware of what’s going on by bringing things that we need to know to our attention,” she said at the event, which was organised by Sekunjalo Investments and Independent Newspapers.

However, she added, the media also had certain responsibilities.

“I think we can be constructive, even when we are being critical,” said Mbete.

Partisan and one-sided reporting was not helpful, she said. Members of the press were human and could make mistakes, but should always be open, she added.

Iqbal Survé, chairperson of Sekunjalo, which owns Independent, was the guest of honour at the upmarket hotel in Cape Town’s city centre.

Among the guests were Lechesa Tsenoli, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, and Marius Fransman, Western Cape ANC leader.

Mbete didn’t say much about the state of the nation address, except that each one is unique and “full of energy and expectation”.

She added that the debate after the speech was just as important for the health of the country’s democracy.

Parliament had the institutional and moral responsibility to hold the executive responsible and the institution would ensure that the executive complied with its responsibilities, said Mbete.

After Mbete’s speech, the guests sang to Survé, who celebrated his birthday today.

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