Zondo Commission, Sanef set for more talks after series of leaked affidavits

2019-01-26 21:45

The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) and the Zondo Commission have agreed to go back to the drawing board with regulations that limit access to information of the inquiry.

This follows a meeting held between both parties in Johannesburg on Saturday where a "positive and productive" session took place.

Commission regulation, the timing of the release of commission documents and allegations of a list of paid journalists were among the main talking points.

Sanef objected to a regulation that restricts the dissemination or perusal of any documents submitted to the commission without the permission of the chairperson.

READ: Sanef concerned over Zondo's criticism of the media for publishing leaked affidavit

"Sanef raised a number of concerns with this regulation including the concern that it prohibits journalists from accessing documents already in the public domain," Commission spokesperson Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela said on Saturday.

He said they agreed to look at the legal implications of the restriction and to take the matter further.

"This is to ensure a careful balance between ensuring access to documents already in the public domain, and released by witnesses themselves, and further protecting the integrity of the Commission’s work and processes."

The importance of journalists having access to a full set of witness documents was also raised – with media asking for access to ensure in-depth and nuanced coverage of the issues.

LISTEN: Bosasa bosses Agrizzi and Watson talk about influencing Zuma

"The commission indicated that, as a general rule, it will release witness’s statements to the media when a witness has dealt with all matters covered in his or her statement," said Stemela.

However, a special arrangement would be made for the chairperson of the commission to grant journalists accredited by the Commission permission to have access to documents and witness statements prior to and after evidence is given.

"In such a case the chairperson will grant access on terms and conditions that he may stipulate," he said.

Journalists on the payroll

Sanef also discussed allegations that journalists were paid by Bosasa to write them positive stories, saying it could cast "aspersions on the journalism profession as a whole".

"The Commission informed Sanef that, as the evidence suggests that payments were made to journalists as bribes to cover-up corruption or turn a blind eye to State Capture, the Commission is bound to investigate this matter further as part of its work," Stemela said.

He said Sanef welcomed the move, requesting the public to forward any information they may have to the commission.

"Both parties acknowledged that there was a need to have ongoing discussions in order to deal with other issues on which they may still wish to find common ground."

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Read more on:    bosasa  |  sanef  |  state capture inquiry
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