Include fair treatment of media in electoral code - Sanef

2016-02-24 12:44


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Johannesburg - The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has been asked to include the fair treatment of media in the declarations and pledges political parties sign during elections.

The SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) made the request during a meeting with the IEC and party representatives in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Sanef asked that political parties adhere to the electoral code of conduct before the election date was promulgated as campaigning was already under way and journalists were experiencing problems in some areas, the forum said in a statement.

Sanef requested the meeting after it decided there was an urgent need to engage with political parties about respecting the role of the media and protecting journalists from harassment and intimidation.

"If and when political parties take umbrage with the way certain media organisations cover their elections campaigns, they should contact the relevant editors or take the matter up with the office of the Press Council of South Africa and or the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.

"The pledge that political parties are required to sign before the elections should include reference to respect for the media and journalists before, during and after the election," said Sanef.

Sanef's request would mean including section 8 of the Municipal Electoral Act into party pledges.

The section states that every party and candidate must respect the role of the media before, during and after an election, and not deny journalists access to meetings, marches, demonstrations and rallies. Parties had to ensure their representatives or supporters did not harass, intimidate, or threaten journalists.

The forum said it was waiting for a response from the political parties and IEC.

Earlier this month, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema Malema told journalists who worked for Gupta-owned media, ANN7 and The New Age, not to attend EFF events.

"We want to advise the Gupta television and newspapers, they must no longer come to EFF events because they are not safe for them," he said.

At the time, Sanef said it was unacceptable for any political party to intimidate journalists and to publicly state that they could not guarantee their safety.

The Gupta brothers obtained an urgent interdict to stop the EFF from threatening them and from interfering with its journalists.

Sanef condemned instances where bribes, disguised as "cooldrink money" or "transport money" were offered to journalists to cover political events.

Political parties had complained of inequitable media coverage, it said.

Read more on:    sanef  |  iec  |  media  |  local elections 2016

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