SANEF speaks out about violation of media freedom in Parliament

By Drum Digital
16 February 2015

SANEF believes that the signal blockages in parliament on Thursday should be presented as unlawful to the High Court of South Africa.

The South African National Editor's Forum (SANEF) has spoken out about the signal blockages that took place at Parliament last week before the State of the Nation Address.

SANEF chairperson, Mpumelelo Mkhabela believes that what happened was a "direct assault on journalistic duties and a direct assault on the public's need to receive information."

Mkhabela spoke to Drum about the forum's plans to take their worries to the High Court of South Africa.

"We're obligated by all codes that govern media and constitution we work for to report in a balanced and accurate manner."

"When parliament interrupts broadcast, we are unable to fulfil duty," he adds.

Mkhabela accepts that the forum has never spoken out about the terms of broadcast in parliament before but believes that the situation calls for an outcry.

"There is a policy in place that allows for signal blockages in parliament by the speaker when she deems it necessary or when parliament is done but now that this policy directly interfered with the ability of journalists to do their job, it is unlawful and unconstitutional." says Mkhabela.

The chairperson believes that broadcasting from parliament should be configured to the public's right to access of information.

"They need to give media a full seat in the chambers and to use their own equipment. The broadcasting should be done in such a way that there shouldn't be a difference between members of the public who sit in the gallery in the parliamentary chambers and those who are sitting at home - everyone should see it all," he continues.

The forum has forwarded a written request for a meeting with the President and Speaker which they hope they attend before the SONA debate on Thursday to avoid the incident from occurring again.

Mkhabela made it clear that their only concern is prohibition of journalists performing their duty and not the Constitutional matters the DA and EFF have lodged.

"We don't get involved in politics, we just report on politics," he remarks.

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