Cape Town Press Club to review policy

2012-05-07 20:44

Cape Town - The Cape Town Press Club will review its membership policy at an annual general meeting, vice-chairman Brent Meersman said on Monday.

"We'll put it up for discussion by our members at the AGM, which is either this month or next month, depending on [chairperson] Donwald Pressly's travel schedule."

He said the nature of the club, since its inception in 1976, was to consider all types of people involved in the news-making process and not only journalists.

The club extended membership to those in industries associated with the media, for example politicians, academics, and legal, business, and foreign government representatives.

On Sunday, ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motsheka said that press clubs should revisit their membership criteria and look at the role members played.

He said they should also "conduct a frank discussion on the desirability of having politicians as members".

His comments came after Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson protested about speaking at a press club breakfast briefing on Friday because of the presence of Democratic Alliance MP Pieter van Dalen.

Van Dalen is a fully paid up member of the Cape Town Press Club.

It was apparently her belief that he wanted to use the opportunity to continue a disagreement they had during her budget vote speech on Thursday.

According to her adviser Rams Mabote, the minister had been under the impression she was addressing members of the media and not politicians.

She told the press club that if one political party was there, other parties should also have been present.

Van Dalen agreed to leave so others would not be denied the opportunity of hearing her speak.

Meersman said politicians sometimes joined the club because it was important for them to connect with journalists.

He said past members included African National Congress politicians.

"There is no partisanship in the club. The chairman will control the meeting. If he feels that someone is trying to make a political statement instead of asking a question, he can stop that."

Business Day editor Peter Bruce wrote in a column on Monday that the minister had been "quite right" in refusing to address the club while her DA opposition spokesperson was present.

"As the debate on these pages concerning the so-called 'National' Press Club in Pretoria has shown, membership of what should constitute a press club is a moveable and usually self-serving feast," he said.

"Press clubs should be for journalists and should be run by them. Money is a problem, but that isn’t ever best overcome by easing up on the core principle."

The Cape Town Press Club has more than 500 members, of which 133 are business people and 125 journalists.

Club secretary Gloria Barrett said there were 86 members in public relations, 77 uncategorised members, and 52 people who had retired.

A small number of writers were registered. About 18 people were registered as politicians.

Barrett said politics was a broad category and included city managers and political advisers.

  • sandy.langenstrass - 2012-05-07 21:07

    What a lot to do about nothing.....the minister of agriculture is acting like a spoilt child.

  • Tumisang - 2012-05-07 21:17

    So the DA has planted its members in the clubs to influence the media against the ANC,indeed the ANC should push the information bill,the media is infested by the DA supporters to criticize progressive policies of the ANC

      sandy.langenstrass - 2012-05-08 12:25

      Tumisang....we live in a democracy.....not in a dictatorship, which is what it will become if the information bill is passed...not even you will like a dictator in power in your country.

  • Gerda Malherbe - 2012-05-07 21:52

    Oh puleeese Thumisang, the ANC controls eveeything except the media, give us all a break! Thats the only reason the press is still functioning so very well. As soon as they get their greedy little paws on the press, it will go down the well-trodden path of corruption, unprofessionalism and political servitude

  • Khehla - 2012-05-07 21:55

    Reviewing the membership policy will assist in projecting the club as it want to be seen - independent and free of political allignment or influence. Honest discussions with regards to positioning the club post AGM is critical as 1 incident can damage its credebility

      Dave - 2012-05-07 22:12

      I trust the Press to confront ineptitude, corruption, nepotism and the septic stupidity of the cANCer, in EVERY level of their involvement. The silence of honest ANC supporters in the face of the potential destruction of our Republic is DEAFENING!!

  • Sharon - 2012-05-07 22:28

    What's to discuss? They are not a government institution, thus government cannot prescribe to them who can and cannot be members.

  • Ken - 2012-05-07 22:33


  • andrew.mackie.90 - 2012-05-08 06:36

    Maybe all the Golf clubs and all other clubs should scour their membership just in case a politician is a member! What a joke! The ANC is making huge mountains out tiny mole hills because of a petulant Minister.

      Byron - 2012-05-08 10:48

      You obviously think it ok for politicians to belong and influence press clubs from within with their own agendas as long as they're DA politicians right? Fast forward to 2015 the African press club with its members ranging from business people, a few journos and ANC politicians - and you'll be totally ok with that right? Right

      andrew.mackie.90 - 2012-05-08 14:22

      Byron, You stated that not me. The point I make is people are entitled to join any club of their choice including sports clubs as long as they abide by the club rules.

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