ANC is concerned about the media's 'hatred' of Zuma

The ANC will discuss the idea of media regulation at its national general council (NGC) meeting this weekend, as well as examine “worrying developments” at the SABC. 

ANC national executive committee member and Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu told City Press the “untransformed media” focused on how bad the ANC was, while some stories were informed by the media’s hatred of President Jacob Zuma. 

She said the governing party was worried about developments at the SABC. 

“We are an interested party and want to ensure that those who manage it are people who understand the purpose of the SABC. But the issue here is that we also don’t want to be seen to be micromanaging,” she said. 

Whatever negative things happened at the SABC as a state entity reflected badly on the ANC-led government, she said. 

Zulu, who presided over the drafting of the NGC documents and had, until recently, chaired the communication and media subcommittee of the ANC, said she believed there would “be light at the end of the tunnel for the broadcaster”. 

She hinted that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, a close ally of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, would be called to answer over the SABC. 

She said a discussion needed to take place about whether processes in place were effective enough to ensure the right people were in the right places. 

“That’s the question the ANC needs to discuss. People will be called to account. I can also be called to account for my department,” she said. 

The ANC would also look into its relationship with the media and how to deal with the negative coverage directed at the governing party. 

The idea of a media appeals tribunal – which the ANC sees as recourse for members defamed by journalists – was still very much alive and would be one of the focal points of discussions at this midterm review of its policies. 

But the ANC was also supporting the scrapping of apartheid-era criminal defamation laws that imposed jail time for journalists found guilty of defamation. 

Zulu was adamant that the existing self-regulatory system – since changed to independent co-regulation – through the press ombudsman and press council was ineffective and needed to be strengthened. 

“Sometimes there is a feeling that we are just open to any kind of attack and we have no recourse at all. We want recourse, just like the media does,” she said. 

But she pointed out that submissions and concerns raised about the legislation would be taken into consideration before the final decision was made. 

“If it had not been for the fact that we have seen terribly unbalanced reporting around us, I’m sure we would not be in this space of looking at the tribunal. It’s because we are just realising that even if there are good things happening, the media prefers not to talk about them.” 

She gave the example of Zuma’s opening of the Medupi Power Station a month ago being relegated to the back pages and not making any headlines. 

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