Protect press freedom from a ‘paranoid ANC’ – Maimane

2015-06-05 11:22
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Genevieve Quintal, News24

Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Genevieve Quintal, News24

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Cape Town - The fourth estate must protect freedom amid increasing efforts by the ANC to silence a critical media. 

That was the message that DA leader Mmusi Maimane sent to the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday night. 

“I don’t need to remind any of you here today about the attempts to suffocate and silence the media under prime ministers [Hendrik] Verwoerd, [John] Vorster and [PW] Botha,” said Maimane. 

“Throughout this onslaught, the South African press remained unbowed and courageous. And when we celebrated our first steps as a democracy, the press was rightly lauded for the role it had played. 

“Now, fast-forward two decades. While our government doesn’t miss an opportunity to remind us of the freedoms they helped deliver – and particularly our free media – there is clear evidence that we have regressed on this front.” 

Maimane named the following examples: 

» The ANC-connected Sekunjalo who took over the Independent Group; 

» The ANC-connected Gupta family, who own The New Age newspaper and the ANN7 TV channel; 

» ANC cadres were deployed to fill vital positions in the SABC board; 

» The ANC government’s call for “feel-good” news quotas; 

» A government that would prefer to see “patriotism” rather than corruption investigations; 

» The development of the Protection of State Information Bill; 

» Continuing attacks by police on journalists and photographers; and 

» The use of signal blockers in Parliament. 

According to Maimane, all of these incidents are linked. 

“There is a thread that runs through all of them, and that thread is the ANC government. As it becomes increasingly threatened, it becomes increasingly paranoid.” 

Maimane said it was everyone’s responsibility to protect the freedom of the media. 

“We owe it to all who dedicated their lives to a free and impartial press back when a democratic South Africa was still a distant dream.” 

Maimane quoted Abraham Lincoln: “Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe.” 

“And right now, with everything that’s going on, our country really needs to be safe. I appeal to you, the members of the Fourth Estate, to help ensure this safety.” 

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  mmusi maimane  |  media  |  press freedom

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