ANC 'won't curtail media freedom'
THE ANC insisted yesterday it did not want to curtail press freedom with a proposed Media Appeals Tribunal, but warned that print media did not seem committed to transformation.
"It's us who can gloat and say the freedom you enjoy is as a result of what we fought for, led by the ANC... We are not about to reverse our legacy in that area," ANC national spokesperson Jackson Mthembu told editors and journalists in Johannesburg yesterday.
But the media should not deny the ANC the right to "put a view to the public. Does that not amount to messing up with our freedom of expression as the ANC?" Mthembu asked.
He was briefing the media on the ANC's discussion document to set up a Media Appeals Tribunal for the print media, saying the current self-regulatory system of the press ombudsman did not allow for punitive measures against newspapers.
Harassment of journalists by the police and the arrest of Sunday Times investigative journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika topped the agenda of a meeting between police commissioner General Bheki Cele and the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) earlier.
The meeting was meant to "mend" the deteriorating relationship between the police and the media that reached its lowest ebb last week.
Cele said he was aware that the police were not above the law and measures should be taken against transgressors.
"If police are found out of tune the Independent Complaints Directorate and other structures must act to put us in line," he said.
He said it was important that the police and journalists were both able to do their jobs without any hindrance from the other.
He said though the meeting was not to "make friends" there was a need to "mend the relationship as we go forward".
Cele admitted that the bigger issue on the table was last week's arrest of Wa Afrika, who wrote an article exposing an allegedly irregular R500million lease for a new police headquarters in Pretoria. The article was not discussed yesterday.
Cele wanted Sanef to speedily address the issue of inaccurate reporting.
Sanef chairperson Mondli Makhaya said: "Wa Afrika's arrest was the lowest point between the South African media and the SAPS."
He said the police would have to stick within the parameters of the law and Constitution when arresting journalists in future.