Sanef wants decent talk with ANC

2010-07-30 12:45

Johannesburg - The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) will request a meeting with the ANC to have a "decent conversation" about media freedom, Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhanya said on Friday.

"There seems to be a huge gulf that has developed between the ANC and the media. We want to sit down with them and a have a decent conversation," Makhanya told Sapa.

"We will be requesting a meeting with the ANC."

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Thursday invited newspaper editors to join the ruling party's debate on setting up a statutory media tribunal.

But Makhanya said there was no way Sanef would ever be open to the idea of such a tribunal.

"A media tribunal would be unconstitutional and totally against media freedom. It would be a very, very dangerous move."

However, Sanef would be willing to discuss the role of the Press Ombudsman and Press Council.

Accountable to the public

Makhanya said the media was not only accountable to the ANC, but to the public, and if the public felt the print media's self-regulation could be improved, it needed to be discussed.

"We would be open to a discussion on how it can be strengthened," he said.

The ANC wants an independent statutory body accountable to Parliament to deal with complaints against newspapers, instead of only using the Press Ombudsman who currently deals with complaints.

Mantashe said on Thursday, according to The Star newspaper: "Our invitation is that the media must engage in that debate constructively, throw around ideas and not defend its own turf.

"The fact that editors and columns in the newspapers are on the defensive is not going to stop us from having that discussion. It's up to them if they want to contribute to that debate, and actually to influence it.

"It is up to them, if they think they are on the defensive and must take a laager approach to that discussion, they are doing that at their own peril," said Mantashe.