ANC asks media to be objective
Johannesburg - The ANC on Tuesday appealed to the country's media to be objective when reporting on the party.
Scretary-general Gwede Mantashe told editors and reporters in Sandton: "The worse relationship for us is if you have journalists who are biased, in favour or against the ANC.
"We appeal to you...don't be biased in favour of us, equally don't be biased against us."
The ruling party was launching a programme to improve its relationship with and its accessibility to the media.
"...We want to engage more freely and openly," Mantashe said.
Better interaction, the ANC believed, would improve journalists' understanding of the organisation and in turn add to the quality of their reporting.
"Engage us, so when you write about us, you know where we are coming from."
Journalists and editors raised a number of challenges to reporting about the party, including getting hold of leaders and the party's unwillingness to disclose information when it was requested.
Mantashe explained the ANC's position when it came to "negative reporting", saying the ANC had a responsibility to "kill" this type of publicity.
It was the party's responsibility to defend itself to "avoid being bled to death" by negative publicity.
Media representatives also questioned the party on press statements issued by ANC Youth League spokesperson Floyd Shivambu, who often personally attacked opponents, including journalists.
ANC deputy secretary-general Thandi Modise said the matter would be raised with the league.
Talks between the ruling party and the fourth estate would continue on a regular basis.
Journalists would have access to senior officials and there would be quarterly interactions with ANC president Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe.
They would be permitted to ask any questions they wished.
On Tuesday however the party would not comment on reported moves to bring disciplinary charges against Zwelinzima Vavi, alliance partner Cosatu's general secretary.
Mantashe said the ANC did not want to talk about "speculation" or things "under discussion".
The party generally reported on decisions once made, not while discussions were still underway, he said. The talks reportedly took place during a national working committee meeting.
ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete said it was "not correct" for journalists to "harass" the ANC about things it was "not ready" to discuss.