News24

Freedom of speech group launched

2010-08-31 12:33

Johannesburg - A coalition has been launched to emphasise the importance of free speech to all sectors of society not just the media, the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) announced on Tuesday.

"The Coalition for Free Speech will champion a collective drive by media, big business and civil society to amplify the importance of free speech as a pillar of our democracy and not just a matter which concerns media," Sanef said in a statement.

Sanef members adopted the introduction of the coalition at a meeting in Johannesburg on Monday.

It came in response to the perceived threats to the media and free speech by the ANC's proposed introduction of a Media Appeals Tribunal to regulate media, and some clauses in the Protection of Information Bill.

"In response to a need for a united front against the secrecy legislation, Sanef set up a series of committees tasked with drafting and implementing strategies to counter the threats to people's right to know," Sanef said.

These committees would begin work immediately.

Sanef also planned to embark on a campaign to show the importance of the principle of "more information is better than less" to all South Africans.

"We feel it is important that the current debate on media freedom be contextualised within the framework of a broader free speech culture in South African society," said Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya.