09 September 2010
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) and the Press Council of SA, met the ANC at its head office in Johannesburg this morning. The meeting was requested by Sanef to discuss the relationship between the media and the ruling party, the Protection of Information Bill and the ANC’s proposed Media Appeals Tribunal.
Sanef stated its concerns that relationships between the ANC and the media had deteriorated since after the World Cup and that the Protection of Information Bill and the Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) represent a threat to media freedom and the free -flow of information.
The editors’ body also reiterated its commitment to media self-regulation and strong opposition to the MAT, which it feels represents an unwarranted, external control of the independent media. Both Sanef and the press council explained the processes they had undertaken to address concerns about the inadequacy of self-regulation and to strengthen the system.
The Press Council is conducting an internal review of its system. ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe explained to the meeting today that the intention of the “bill before parliament is to ensure that SA is not used as a playground by foreign intelligence using even internal sources to undermine the integrity and constitutionality of this country. Deliberations are underway in parliament to consider the media and civil society concerns with certain clauses in this piece of legislation.”
The ANC stated that it was committed to the resolution of its 52nd conference, held in Polokwane in December 2007 calling for an investigation into the desirability of a statutory MAT. Mantashe added that “in our view the MAT will serve as a recourse for South African individuals whose rights have been violated by the media.”
The ruling party also reaffirmed its view that the current media self-regulation system was inadequate. It also restated its commitment to media freedom and the constitution of the country.
The discussion was robust but useful and the parties agreed to hold ongoing discussions. The Sanef delegation was led by its chairperson, Mondli Makhanya while ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe headed the party’s delegation. Raymond Louw, the chairman of the Press Council and Joe Thloloe, the Press Ombudsman, represented the Press Council.