Idea to ‘license’ journalists condemned

2014-07-12 00:00

CAPE TOWN — “It is an absurd idea to license journalists!” was the reaction of ANC NEC member and MP Pallo Jordan to the SABC COO’s plan.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng, around whose head a storm swirled this week over the irregular way he was appointed as chief operating officer, told government-leaning paper the New Age in an “exclusive interview” on Thursday, that he will propose to Communications Minister Faith Muthambi that journalists should be licensed in order to practise.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the public broadcaster does not have an official position on the licensing of journalists, which is Motsoeneng’s personal opinion.

Muthambi, who confirmed Motsoeneng’s appointment on Tuesday, said on Thursday she also doesn’t have a policy, but would discuss the idea.

While it is unclear whether Motsoeneng has the power to insist on such a rule, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) indicated that they strongly oppose such a step.

Sue Valentine, the CPJ’s Africa co-ordinator, said it a worrying development, coming from someone who is in charge of so many journalists.

It is incompatible with democracy and there are other mechanisms to maintain journalists’ accountability, she said.

Phenyo Butale, CEO of the FXI, said the licensing of journalists would destroy press freedom.

“South Africa must be seen to uphold democracy in the region and the continent.”

SA Communist Party spokesperson Alex Mashilo said: “The SACP supports freedom of speech. That includes press freedom. Nothing must restrict these principles.”

Jordan, who wrote in an opinion piece for Business Day last week about the tension between what the public wants to know and what it needs to know, in the light of arrests of journalists in Egypt and the recent phone hacking court case in Britain, asked: “Why should journalists get licences? I am a journalist. I don’t have a licence!”

Meanwhile, a Facebook page supporting Motsoeneng has been set up. The page “Friends of Hlaudi Motsoeneng” was established on Wednesday and by yesterday afternoon had 10 members.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.