Sanef: ANC likens media to bin Laden
Johannesburg - The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) was willing to talk about improving self-regulation, but it did not appreciate the public slamming of the media by ANC officials, its chairperson said on Tuesday.
“Every single ANC spokesman who gets a platform slams the media as if we were... Osama bin Laden,” Mondli Makhanya said at a roundtable discussion hosted by Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg.
He was responding to African National Congress national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu who said the ruling party was willing to “engage” with the media about a proposed Media Appeals Tribunal for print media.
Makhanya said: “Of course we can strengthen (self-regulation). We never said it’s perfect. Let’s have that conversation.”
But he pointed out that President Jacob Zuma and SA Communist Party secretary general Blade Nzimande had been very critical of the media, and very supportive of a tribunal, in recent weeks.
ANC: Ombudsman subjective
Media lawyer Okyerebea Ampofo agreed with Makhanya, saying she was “concerned about the rhetoric” from the ANC.
The ANC has criticised the Press Ombudsman function, saying it was subjective because it was run by a journalist.
Instead, it has suggested that Parliament investigate the possibility of a statutory tribunal to regulate the print media.
Mthembu said many people had lost their jobs because of “malicious” coverage they had received in the media.
Does not make sense
He said the Press Ombudsman did not allow such people proper recourse, and that often an apology by a newspaper was not enough.
Legal action was too expensive for these people, added Mthembu.
But media freedom expert Raymond Louw said the Press Ombudsman offered a free service to members of the public who wanted to complain about alleged defamation.
“I haven’t seen one case before the Press Ombudsman which reflects a complaint about malicious reporting,” said Louw.
He said the most complaints about the media came from high-profile politicians, who probably did have the financial resources to revert to the courts, so Mthembu’s argument did not make sense, said Louw.
“And by the way, what is the parliamentary system of dealing with errant parliamentarians? A self-regulatory system with no participation from the public,” added Louw.