Engagement between government and South Africa’s news media should be directed towards assisting the country’s continuing transition from apartheid to democracy and building national pride and self-belief, without stifling critical public debate.
Government and media also have to establish and sustain mutual trust and respect for the roles these institutions play in consolidating the democracy envisioned in the Constitution.
This was one of the outcomes of the meeting on Saturday 29 October 2011 between the government and members of the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) at the Velmore Hotel and Conference Centre west of Pretoria. This was the sixth high-level consultation between the parties since 2001.
The government delegation was led by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and comprised a range of Cabinet members and Deputy Ministers. The SANEF delegation was led by chairperson Mondli Makhanya and included senior editorial executives from the country’s main print and broadcast organisations.
The meeting allowed government and editors to discuss the expectations they have of one another in the context the Constitutional provisions on freedom of expression and the rights of all South Africans to receive and impart information.
The meeting agreed that this engagement helps deepen, on the part of both the government and the media, an understanding of their respective roles in consolidating our democracy, as guided by the Constitution.
The meeting included presentations on the strengthening of the Press Code, which applies to print media, and also the work being done by the Press Freedom Commission which is investigating ways in which media regulation functions around the world, while both sides made their views known in this regard.
Cabinet expressed its expectations in terms of the role of the media in deepening democracy and ensuring that the Constitution is promoted.