News24

Law used to stifle criticism, expert says

2012-10-19 20:13

Johannesburg - Those in power should not readily turn to defamation or dignity law to stifle criticism of their official conduct, media expert Dario Milo said on Friday.

"The best example of a person wielding this power who is fond of using defamation and dignity laws is our very own President Jacob Zuma," Milo said at Wits university in Johannesburg.

"Between 2006 and 2010, the president instituted court action in 15 cases, suing eight newspapers, a radio station, two cartoonists, a columnist, op-ed writers, and journalists."

That was nearly four lawsuits a year, he said.

"The majority of [Zuma's] claims, which total over R50m, are not about news stories that the president regards as inaccurate, but rather concern criticism of his conduct."

Milo was speaking at a SA Media Freedom Day event, hosted by the SA National Editors Forum, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, and the university.

Media Freedom Day commemorates 19 October 1977, which was known as "Black Wednesday", when under the apartheid government three newspapers were banned and journalists jailed.

Milo said despite the fact that the courts had frequently been called upon to protect the media and had done so there was still a threat to media freedom.

There were two threats in particular.

"Firstly, the use by the executive of apartheid-era legislation to draw a veil of secrecy on matters of public interest," Milo said.

"Secondly, the use of criminal laws to chill freedom of expression, perhaps best exemplified in the draft legislation officially called the protection of state information bill."

This was all despite Zuma saying in his inauguration address in 2009 that "we must defend the freedom of the media".

Comments
  • lacrimose.wolf - 2012-10-19 20:37

    We all know what they should and should not be doing. The question is, who will stop them?

      hendrik.verwoerd.94 - 2012-10-19 22:03

      There is only one way to stop them. Start a new credible party. Join me on my facebook and stop insulting black people whom any party will need to get rid of unwanted parties.

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-10-19 22:31

      Jammer Hendrik, can't do that. The previous regime also used laws in exactly the same way - with the police and army to back them up. I might have been one of those very naive whiteys to grow up in cloud cuckoo land, but I'm now well pleased that we have the opportunity to not only hear about the oppression but know that it is on a www platform.

      beverly.young3 - 2012-10-20 15:23

      No one I am afraid. I think for me, that incredible cartoon by Zapiro (for which he is being sued by Zuma),the on where Zuma is raping justice. I am such despair about this, its is a case of our country fallen.....our so called leaders joining the ranks of the worst in history. Amin, Nero, etc.......we are burning up while Rome burns, miners strike, people starve.....

  • neilpretorius83 - 2012-10-19 21:01

    Zuma is a snake disguised in a fatsuit

  • irene.buthelezi.1 - 2012-10-19 22:07

    It's a black thing. Blacks cannot take criticism in any form and criticism is ALWAYS interpreted as 'racism'.

      claudia.meads - 2012-10-19 22:49

      Mmmm - its called INSECURITY (nothing to do with an electric fence though)...

      terry.mohale - 2012-10-20 07:08

      Its a black thing your big head. Don't generalize the whole lot of us. Wa borega wena Irene, think u smart.

      grant.coffey.5 - 2012-10-20 15:10

      //Its a black thing your big head. Don't generalize the whole lot of us. Wa borega wena Irene, think u smart. // You're taking the criticism well then?

  • tony.naidoo - 2012-10-20 07:10

    Ignorance is bliss. What you don't know can't hurt you. These morons are living in the dark ages!! Typically and repressively African! Is it Spring?

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-10-20 07:19

    Zuma is a lecherous bigamist who tries to portray himself as a saint..in fact all he is is a dumb sh*t thieving f*cknut !!

      yvonne.joseph.1612 - 2012-10-20 09:06

      I agree wholeheartedly with what you say Gerald. How he can even be considered for a further term, I don't know. Please someone tell the masses to open their eyes and ears and not vote for this moron o we are all doomed.

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