Democratic Alliance (Cape Town)
26 January 2012
South Africa has dropped four places (from 38 to 42) in the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index 2011/12 released yesterday. According to the report, countries that recorded a decline did so as a result of the governments in those countries desiring to control news and information.
The report is spot-on in this regard – the ANC-led government has exhibited an unfettered desire to control the manner in which news is reported in South Africa in the last year.
The government has made several attempts through policy proposals to ensure it controls the manner in which information is disseminated; it has introduced the Protection of State Information Bill; and officials and ANC leaders have made public utterances designed to undermine press freedom in South Africa.
While the government has consistently declared itself to be a crusader for the free press, incidents in the last year point to the contrary:
The majority of ANC MPs have taken a pro-Protection of State Information Bill stance.
ANC Regional Chairperson Nceba Faku called on supporters celebrating the ANC’s slender local government election victory in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality to burn down the offices of the local daily, The Herald.
Jimmy Manyi threatened to withdraw funding to publications that do not toe the government line.
Gwede Mantashe compiled a witch-hunt list of newspapers and individual journalists perceived to be anti-ANC.
Blade Nzimande suggested that restrictions should be imposed on media ownership.
ANC MP and now Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni called for the Media Tribunal to be placed firmly back on the agenda.
The ANC-aligned SA National Civics Organisation (Sanco) drew up a list of journalists it called “traitors” because of their criticism of Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza.
Press Freedom is a cornerstone of our democracy. Without press freedom there cannot be a credible barometer of government’s performance. It is the most vulnerable that suffer as a result.
I will next week make a presentation at the Press Freedom Commission Public Hearings presenting proposals that will ensure that South Africa’s press freedom is protected. The transparency of our democracy cannot be allowed to deteriorate any further.
Mmusi Maimane, DA National Spokesperson
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Article source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201201261505.html