MEDIA STATEMENT: 24 FEBRUARY 2015
GPL’s JOINT STATEMENT WITH SANEF REGARDING CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED BY MEDIA AT THE 2015 OPENING OF THE LEGISLATURE
The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) today requested an urgent meeting with the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) following media reports that journalists were barred from the media gallery ahead of yesterday’s State of the Province Address (SOPA).
Led by the Honourable Speaker, Ntombi Mekgwe, GPL’s delegation acknowledged the unfortunate incident and provided reasons for yesterday’s challenges.
The delegation appraised SANEF of the Legislature’s venue capacity challenges which are a result of increased media interest in the work of the Institution. This has been the main cause of space challenges currently experienced at GPL galleries.
The Legislature apologized profusely to SANEF, assuring the forum that efforts would be made to avoid similar inconveniences in future. Drawing lessons from this unfortunate incident, the GPL undertook to consult SANEF to alleviate all potential challenges that may befall the media in all of the Legislature’s future events.
Honourable Mekgwe further assured the forum that the GPL fully recognised the right to ‘freedom of press and other media’ as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. She added that the Legislature had always maintained good relations with the media, and the unfortunate events of yesterday were by no means an act of censorship.
The GPL values its relationship with media stakeholders and will continue making all efforts to ensure lasting relations.
For its part SANEF accepted the explanation and apology and offered to assist the Legislature in future where increased public and media interest could lead to difficulties for the media. SANEF has done this with other State institutions for major events such as the funeral of the late President Rolihlahla Mandela and the Oscar Pistorius trial.
The SANEF delegation comprised SANEF Executive Director Mathatha Tsedu, Chair of the Media Freedom Committee and Beeld Editor Adriaan Basson, his deputy Raymond Louw, Gauteng Convenor and Saturday Star Editor Cecilia Russell, and Council members Jovial Rantao and Rapule Tabane, who are also Editor of The Sunday Independent and Executive Editor of City Press respectively.