Lizette Rabe

Speak or forever hold your peace

2006-09-01 11:49

Lizette Rabe

Thomas Jefferson, co-writer of the American declaration of independence and founding father, has been quoted in this column before. Here's another typical Jeffersonian quote - one that typically applies to our current situation:
"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government."

It's only an independent, unfettered media that can ensure that people are well-informed. That "they can be trusted with their own government".

Speak or forever hold your peace

So, if you're serious about your freedom and your rights in a democracy, show it. You literally have democracy at your fingertips - add your comment below and show your support to the effort media freedom watch dogs are putting in.

Or otherwise, shhhh... and forever hold your peace. Because that is exactly what will happen. You will be shhhh....ut up and shhhh...ut off from information.

Films and Publications Bill

What is it all about? Well, it's still about the home affairs department's proposed amendment to the Films and Publications Bill. If accepted, the media would be subject to pre-publication censorship and other restrictions.

The amendment is making waves around the world, and seriously harming our reputation as a country that takes its constitution seriously.

If you've followed this column for the past couple of weeks, yes, this is the third column in a row with The Amendment as topic.

But, instead of clicking away, how about breaking your silence and click on the comment button below to show your support?

Media freedom watchdogs

It seems, thankfully, the initial loud and consistent barking by media freedom watch dogs Sanef, Misa-SA and the FXI have had an effect.

In a media release, the three organisations that protested the decision to repeal the exemption of the print and broadcast media from the provisions of the Films and Publications Act, welcome the latest move in this sorry saga.

And the latest move is a statement by cabinet that it has no intention to "muzzle the media in any way and that this position will not change".

The initial lawaai had the result that the cabinet directed relevant government departments to engage with Sanef and other parties to discuss their concerns about the bill.

So, instructions are out. To follow, send submissions to the relevant portfolio committee and meetings with those pen pushers who clearly made a bad joke. One that we cannot afford.

This is your chance!

Nevertheless, the cabinet, still "took the view that the bill must be published in its current form". But then it also conceded that public discourse must be allowed before the Bill is promulgated. So this is your chance: post your comment and hit the send button.

And our three watch dogs?

Well, of course they acknowledged the fact that government "wishes to pursue customary parliamentary procedures in dealing with the bill".

But they've made it clear: they want to state that the bill's "pre-publication censorship provisions and other restrictions is unacceptable and is highly damaging to South Africa's reputation as a country that upholds freedom of expression and freedom of the media. Parliament is urged to deal with the issues as a matter of urgency".

And now go and post your comment. Fingers to the keyboard to ensure your freedom of expression!

  • Lizette Rabe is head of the postgraduate Department of Journalism at the University of Stellenbosch, a Sanef council member and Sanef-convenor for the Western Cape. And she's addicted to news.

    Send your comments to Lizette

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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