The Station, 63 Peter Place, Bryanston, Johannesburg, 2169

SANEF Cabinet Indaba Joint Statement

The meeting was attended by Ministers Jeff Radebe, Nomvula Mokonyane, Siyabonga Cwele, and Deputy Ministers Hlengiwe Mkhize, John Jeffery, Obed Bapela. The SANEF delegation was led by SANEF Council Chairperson, Mr Mpumelelo Mkhabela and Deputy Chairperson Moshoeshoe Monare, who were accompanied by senior editors and media practitioners, including academics.
Opening the deliberations, Deputy President Ramaphosa said government and the media had important functions to perform in South African society. While government and the media were, in different ways, accountable to the South African public, they shared a common responsibility as social partners and as “custodians of the promise of 1994”.“We are, all of us, custodians of the aspirations of the millions of South Africans who have struggled, suffered and sacrificed to be free. We are custodians of democracy, of development, of justice and equality,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa. He said government was committed to a free and thriving media that should scrutinise the actions and policies of government with the ability and balance to commend success and highlight shortcomings.
During today’s interaction, Minister Jeff Radebe briefed editors on the National Development Plan and the Nine-Point Plan announced by President Jacob Zuma in the 2015 State of the Nation Address to ignite the economy and create jobs. Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele gave an update on government’s plan to expand broadband infrastructure in the country.
For SANEF, it was an opportunity to brief government on the relationship between government and media, technological and professional developments within the media sector. The meeting also received a report by the Press Council on the media industry’s system of voluntary independent co-regulation to deal with media consumers’ or sources’ complaints about coverage they consider problematic. The Press Council’s mandate is being broadened to deal with online publications as well. SANEF assured government of the media’s commitment to the success of the country and South Africa’s status and development as a constitutional democracy. In its presentation, SANEF identified critical issues within the South African media sector. These included declining revenues and profits, resulting in cost-cutting, restructuring, jobs and skills losses.
Other issues of concern to SANEF included planned parliamentary hearings on the desirability of a Media Appeals Tribunal and the pending Protection of State Information Bill. SANEF welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s stated assurances that hearings will take into account constitutional provisions on free speech and free media. SANEF also reported on developments and innovation in the training of journalists and discussions with the judiciary and the police to enhance the way media cover the courts and the fight against crime. The meeting agreed that constructive interaction between government and media, and a free and viable media sector are critical to building a South Africa where citizens are informed and empowered in helping the country realise the promise of 1994.
Government and SANEF agreed on the importance of maintaining healthy relations between government and the media to ensure that South Africans are fully informed and engaged as active participants in the country’s development, while government is also held accountable.
The meeting welcomed improvements in the level of trust between government and journalists and committed jointly to deepen trust and more detailed exchanges of views through future interactions. These will include, among other means, quarterly briefings by members of the National Executive to senior editorial executives. Closing the session, Deputy President Ramaphosa welcomed the interaction as a positive engagement which had confirmed that government and the media were “joined at the hip” with the common responsibility of building South Africa. He also commended media on enhancements in the training of journalists and other initiatives to secure high levels of professionalism.
The Deputy President invited media to work with government in advancing transparency and accountability in South African society, as part of the country’s continuous development.