Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s refusal to answer questions
On 3 September 2019, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) condemns Minister Mboweni’s refusal to answer questions from Business Maverick’s journalist, Ray Mahlaka, including his pulling of the “you should respect your elders” card.
Minister Mboweni was addressing a press conference on his strategic economic plan “Economic transformation, Inclusive Growth, and Competitiveness: Towards an Economic Strategy for South Africa” published on 27 August, ahead of the World Economic Forum in Africa. Instead of asking a question about the plan Mboweni responded with the statement, “this isn’t the time and place”. Further, he stated that journalists should respect their elders.
SANEF believes that this inappropriate response from the finance minister. This is a critical document and it is journalists’ role to ask questions, to critique and to analyse. It is impossible for journalists to hold politicians – or anyone in a position of power – to account if they are not given the space for robust engagement. SANEF does not believe that this is an issue of respect. Robust engagement is the lifeblood of the media and it is ultimately the lifeblood of our young democracy.
Sanef Also Condemns Attacks On Sabc & Caxton Journalists
SANEF also condemns attacks on SABC journalist, Sashin Naidoo and Caxton community media journalist, Tshepiso Mametela.
Naidoo was covering the violent looting in Jeppestown and Malvern yesterday from early in the morning. He managed to escape from looters without being personally harmed but his car was severely damaged by looters. Naidoo was on his way to a briefing with Minister of Safety and Security, Bheki Cele.
Mametela, from community newspaper the “Joburg East Express”, had his camera bag and equipment stolen while making his way back to his car after engaging with the Minister. He encountered a dispersing mob and attempted to run for cover and tripped, which was when the equipment was stolen. He also noticed damage to his vehicle – he believes that this was caused by a vehicle that bumped into his car while fleeing the area.
SANEF is relieved that both Mametela and Naidoo weren’t harmed but we are concerned that journalists are more frequently being attacked – and more frequently being caught in the cross-fire of violent attacks.
SANEF believes that it is essential that violent protests and looting are covered – and covered in-depth – so that citizens understand the reasons behind the looting, the triggers and ultimately how to stop this in the future. However, simultaneously, media companies need to make sure that journalists are protected. Journalists need to be given the tools, strategies and necessary training. Further, journalists need to be given trauma counselling. As SANEF we are committed to supporting media companies to provide training and support to ensure the safety of journalists.
Also, SANEF believes that it is essential that members of the public are educated to understand the role of the media in covering stories – including the role of the media in covering protests, incidents of violence, looting and so forth. Journalists need to be protected by citizens so that they can move freely – and so they can ask the hard questions, talk truth to power and ultimately get to the bottom of why these violent incidents are happening, including ways to stop the violence and remedies to the deep underlying causes.
For more information please contact:
Mahlatse Mahlase – SANEF Chairperson, 083 399 2852
Sam Mkokeli – SANEF Media Freedom Chairperson, 082 084 2051
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director 082 926 6404