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Sanef concern at ANC's disciplining of criticism

By unknown | Sep 12, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

South Africa could be developing into a state where the government is using its powers to discipline critical media.

This is the fear expressed by the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef).

It arises from the recent statement by Minister in the Office of the President Essop Pahad that the government should consider withdrawing its advertising from the Sunday Times.

This was apparently in retaliation for the newspaper's publication of publicly significant information about Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Sanef chairman Jovial Rantao said yesterday that they regard the threat made by Pahad as serious even if he had made it in his personal capacity.

He said of concern was the fact that there has not been any counter-response from either the ANC or the government.

"Our concern is that pressure is being brought on newspaper editors to stop publishing stories that criticise the government," said Rantao.

Sanef yesterday said, after the three-day Africa Highway conference in Grahamstown, that it was unacceptable for public bodies to use withdrawal of advertising as a punitive measure to promote self-censorship.

Sanef is also concerned about a proposal tabled for discussion at the ANC conference in December to set up a task team to investigate the conduct of the media and to consider the establishment of a media tribunal.

"Any tribunal of this sort has led to restrictions in the media," said Rantao.

Sanef management will meet with the SABC to discuss the decision by the corporation's chief executive, Dali Mpofu, to cut ties with the organisation.

Mpofu made the announcement following Sanef's decision to support the Sunday Times publishing reports about Tshabalala-Msimang's abuse of alcohol and the fact that she was convicted for theft in Botswana while in exile there.


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