Another 'Black Wednesday' unlikely - Sanef

2011-10-19 19:01

Johannesburg - It is unlikely the media will ever be gagged again as it was by the apartheid regime, SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) chairperson Mondli Makhanya said on Wednesday.

"Today we are far, far away from that time and we never want to go back," said Makhanya in Johannesburg.

He was speaking at a function to commemorate 34 years since the National Party government banned black consciousness organisations and jailed journalists.

The day, on October 19, 1977 is known as "Black Wednesday".

Mkhanya said journalists, especially at the moment, faced another threat to media freedom - the protection of information bill.

He said there were "serious attempts" by "very powerful" people to curtail South Africans from speaking out against injustices and the media's ability to report on them.

"We should not allow the people who want to try and close the free space of information to triumph."

Makhanya said journalists should also be vigilant to any manipulation by government officials to sway reporting ahead of the 2012 ANC conference.

"Democracy by its very nature breeds influence peddlers. We need to make sure that reporters can withstand the tsunami of manipulation," he said.

Makhanya said media should remain self-critical.

"We have to ask ourselves, are we being true to our calling of truth tellers."

If journalists performed their duties to the fullest, politicians, government departments and business would be "more scared of us".

Press Freedom Commission project director Mathatha Tsedu said journalists must make input for consideration in a report due out around by March next year.

The idea of a report was in response by the media to the ANC calling for a media appeals tribunal.

The report is expected to outline a proposed framework of self-regulation in the media that could be included in the Constitution.

Tsedu said the "usual suspects" had come forward but urged all South Africans, editors and journalists, who had not come forward, to do so.

The event was also convened to celebrate South Africa's Media Freedom Day.

In a later statement the presidency urged media and analysts to be open minded and avoid stereotyping.

"In this way the South African public will be better informed about the actions, decisions and policies of government."

It said it had noted with "great concern" the coverage of President Jacob Zuma.

"When the president considers all aspects of matters placed before him to take an informed decision, the media accuses him of being indecisive.

"When he acts, he is accused of taking decisions vindictively, informed by the ANC elective conference that is scheduled to take place."

The presidency emphasised that Zuma made decisions independently, informed by facts before him.

"The pigeonholing of the president that has become prevalent misleads the public and also kills critical thinking in the media and public space," it said.

  • Lyndatjie - 2011-10-19 19:13

    Whose truth? Which version of the truth? There are three sides of the truth. Yours, mine and the truth. Will Truth please stand up because it seems that not many people know Truth at all. Truthfully a sad State of a-fears.....

  • Kate - 2011-10-19 19:16

    It better not happen as we rely on the media to keep us in touch with what these "maaifoedies" get up to.

      Ingrid - 2011-10-20 09:59

      Kate is that really the type of person you want to be? Try again.

  • michael.e.bowery - 2011-10-19 19:37

    For `unlikely' I would have appreciated the word `Never.'

  • barry.mcbride - 2011-10-19 19:44

    "In this way the South African public will be better informed about the actions, decisions and policies of government." Yes, but do such in the reverse order when applied, i.e. have a well-defined policy first, thereby making a sensible decision, and then taking the appropriate action.

      craigtjames - 2011-10-19 20:13

      And then of course we have the info bill. Not finalised yet, but we certainly get NO info which is useful. We hear about the government spending - R21 billion - but no explanation as to corrective measures - Zuma will respond to suggestions on how to curb irregular spending when it suits him. Yes, the media still tells about everything - but the government gives no explanations. Useful to not have a gagged media - does not look like it.

  • Daaivark - 2011-10-19 20:08

    When they did this in Zimbabwe the media simply created a web presence in SA - The internet and Wikileaks will put paid to these ill founded government plots. Are they too silly to realise this ?

      Alva - 2011-10-19 21:19

      Hope so but I wouldn't want to gamble with press freedom.

  • Witbooi - 2011-10-19 20:34

    So we replaced a racist white nationalist party with a racist black nationalist party. The white State President couldnt take critism and guess what nor can the black President. The former regime gagged the media and the current regime is going in the same direction - their reasons being the same - stability for the country and safety. And you are 100% correct - there wont be another black Wednesday the next time it will be a White Wednesday - ya know political correctness and all. But one things for sure - race doesnt matter - we ALL lose.... when the free press is suppressed - ask the Zimbabweans,

  • Heinrich - 2011-10-19 21:15

    "It is unlikely the media will ever be gagged again as it was by the apartheid regime" No, it will not be the same. This time everybody will be gagged. Not just blacks.

  • Dave Neill - 2011-10-19 21:24

    You can't silence the media in today day and age. The Internet will make sure of that.

  • Alva - 2011-10-19 21:28

    The protection of information bill reeks of cover-ups and Jimmy Kruger tactics.Interesting bit about Zuma making decisions independently. Can he really?

  • Alva - 2011-10-19 21:37

    A free press and free flow of information is vital and in the best interest of all South Africans. The ANC government is busy creating a 'them and us' scenario by trying to lock away and hide information from public scrutiny. Just goes to show how technologically retarded they are.

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