Pallo Jordan ‘opposes’ media tribunal

2010-11-23 08:22

ANC veteran Pallo Jordan criticised his party’s media tribunal plans at a debate where he was originally scheduled to speak in favour of the tribunal and controversial Protection of Information Bill.

“How did it [the ANC] paint itself into a corner where it can be portrayed as being opposed to media freedom? All the legislation we now have, including the Protection of Access to Information Act, was developed by the ANC,” said Jordan, according to a report in Business Day newspaper today.

“Given all these measures, how does one square that with an attempt to control, or pressure, media into a corner? I say it’s a fool’s errand, it cannot be done, given the commercial, technical environment that presently exists in media,” the former minister said.

He was speaking at a National Association of Democratic Lawyers panel discussion at the weekend, where he was scheduled to speak in favour of the bill and tribunal.

But when Jordan started talking, he said the audience might be left confused with the remarks he was planning to make.

He went on to say the ANC was creating a “lose-lose situation” for itself.

Jordan warned that not only was a Constitutional challenge against the bill possible, but also, that it was very difficult to keep information secret today.

“Think about WikiLeaks and documents on the Nato coalition’s activities in Afghanistan or Iraq.

“Given the policies we [the ANC] have in place and the laws we have in place, if the movement pursues this path it can only result in a lose-lose situation.

“Those who want to rubbish us will have every right to do so,” said Jordan.

The ANC has decided to appoint a team to investigate the possibility of a media appeals tribunal for print media, a notion that was first discussed at its last national conference in 2007.

The government has also taken flak for the proposed Protection of Information Bill, which is still under discussion, but if left unchanged, would allow the state to classify any information it deemed fit.

The bill would not allow the media to publish any information, even if it were in the public interest, and journalists doing so, could be sent to jail.

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