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SANEF welcomes Minister Lamola’s comments on the protection of whistle-blowers and sources of journalists

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The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) welcomes the Department of Justice’s promised plan to close loopholes in the protection of whistle-blowers, a move that will enhance the fundamental principles of protecting sources of journalists.

Ronald Lamola, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, while addressing the SANEF Council meeting in Cape Town last Saturday 11 February 2023, pointed out how the government is amending the relevant legislation to ensure that all government departments, institutions, and agencies understand their obligations to protect whistleblowing in line with the Protected Disclosures Act.

“We are working hard to tighten laws to protect whistleblowers, we are confident that the media will be important partners in this process. We need to work together to ensure that the government and companies implicated by whistle-blowers are held accountable. The media can also continue exposing those who victimise good citizens who blow the whistle on corrupt and unethical practices,” said Lamola.

We believe that in order to defend the media from attacks on their independence, the amendments will benefit journalists whose sources include whistleblowers wanting to reveal the truth.

SANEF also noted the minister’s concerns including what he called “the political weaponisation” of newsrooms where journalists volunteered their “professional skills and platforms to do the bidding of politicians, captains of industry and lobby groups”.

SANEF plans to host several debates and the state of the media summit to thoroughly discuss challenging and sensitive topics on the credibility of the media ahead of the 2024 elections.

SANEF welcomes the undertaking by Lamola that he will engage those in charge of managing our courts as there has been an increase in denying journalists access, or entry into court buildings. This has become an increasing problem across lower and high courts.

Address by the IEC

The Council also had thorough discussions with the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mosotho Moepya, who warned editors about the changing and complicated electoral laws that the media must explain to voters before the 2024 elections are conducted.  He said the IEC pleads with the media to continue reporting the elections in an informative and educational manner, while also continuing to ask the hard questions that need truthful, honest, and fair answers. Voters will see ballot papers changed from previous elections and many processes will also change in line with the Constitutional Court order.

Engagements with the President of the Republic

The SANEF Council also deliberated on the lack of the President’s availability to address the media regularly as he had promised in the past. We believe that an open, honest dialogue with the media fosters transparency, inspiring trust in the government, political organisations, and the public.

It is imperative that the president interacts with the media and should not be overpowered by his political and bureaucratic intermediaries. The president must disseminate his message and action plans to the nation through the diverse array of media avenues and it starts with talking to journalists.

SANEF appoints new Secretary-General

The Council unanimously appointed award-winning journalist and political editor at News24, Qaanitah Hunter, as its new Secretary-General following the departure of its stalwart Mary Papayya who has joined the public sector.

Note to Editors:

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists, and journalism trainers from all areas of South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics, and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research, and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.

For more information please contact:

Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Chairperson (073) 404-1415

Nwabisa Makunga – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 555-1972

Qaanitah Hunter – SANEF Secretary-General

Tshamano Makhadi – Treasurer-General (082) 223 0621

Makhudu Sefara – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (079) 177-2134

Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334

Dr. Glenda Daniels – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (083) 229-9708

Rochelle De Kock – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (072) 969-8028

Reggy Moalusi – SANEF Executive Director (071) 682-3695

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.sanef.org.za