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Sanef meets Parliament Presiding Officers over cellphone jamming

Sanef Statement 4 March 2015

A delegation of the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) led by Deputy Chairperson Bongani Siqoko met with Parliament’s Presiding Officers in Cape Town today to discuss last month’s jamming of cellphone network at the start of the State of the Nation Address (SONA). The Parliament delegation comprised of National Assembly Speaker Ms Baleka Mbete, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Ms Thandi Modise, Deputy NA Speaker Mr Lechesa Tsenoli and Secretary to Parliament Mr Gengezi Mgidlana. The Sanef delegation included Executive Director Mathatha Tsedu, Western Cape Convenor, Janet Heard and Media freedom subcommittee Chair, Adriaan Basson.

The meeting had been requested by Sanef to seek assurances that the jamming, which left journalists covering SONA unable to work, would never happen again. Sanef has also been discussing the broadcast feed given by Parliament to broadcasters, which invariably edits out commotion in Parliament. Sanef and other media and civil society organisations have taken the two issues to the Cape High Court where it is set down for hearing before a full bench on Friday March 6.

The Presiding Officers welcomed the initiative to talk and but emphasized that as the two issues were before court substantive discussions were not possible. They however reiterated their condemnation of the jamming and said they would prioritise discussions on proposals that Sanef submitted last month to change the broadcast rules once the court case was over.

“ We accept the assurance and are also quite happy that discussions around the feed will be prioritized as this will enable media to fully inform South Africans about what is happening in Parliament,” Siqoko said.

For Inquiries:
Sanef Executive Director Mathatha Tsedu 0824540527