ANC would be voted out if people read newspapers: Nzimande

2010-09-16 14:38

If the majority of people read newspapers, the ANC would have been voted out of power long ago, SA Communist Party general secretary-general Blade Nzimande said today.

“We feel that, generally, the media has positioned itself as opposition to government,” Nzimande told the Cape Town Press Club.

“Why, even with this harsh criticism, does the ANC still come up with a two-thirds majority?” he asked.

“If our people were following newspapers they would have long voted out the ANC.”

Nzimande said that suppressing the media would be “dangerous” and that journalists should be allowed to write what they like.

The SACP and its alliance partner, the ANC, wanted a more “transparent” media that gave credit “where it is due”.

“In the SACP, we don’t want the suppression of the media. That is dangerous. It is absolutely dangerous,” Nzimande said.

“But what we are saying, is that the media should have used this opportunity to look at itself.

“Playing a positive role doesn’t mean supporting the ANC or SACP, but give credit where it is due.”

Nzimande said the ANC did not want a tribunal “that would register or deregister parties” or one that would “tell the media what to write or what not to write”.

“The media can write whatever it likes,” he said.

“We do not want a tribunal that punishes journalists. We want a tribunal that punishes media houses. We are not saying punish or jail journalists. All we are saying is that we need a more transparent media.”

Nzimande said it was unfair that when a complaint was laid with the press ombudsman “you waive your right to take this matter further”.

“I would like to challenge this some day,” he said.

“How can you have a self-regulating body taking away my right to go to court? It is unconstitutional.”

Part of the problem was that the media was monopolised by a few media houses.

Nzimande said there was concern about the “juniorisation” of newsrooms, which was having a negative effect on investigative journalism.

“The commercial pressures of the media lead to a number of unintended consequences,” he said.

“Part of what is causing consternation in the SACP and ANC is that stories are written that are highly damaging to people, with no ways and means available to ensure appropriate measures to try and deal with instances of transgression.”

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