Press freedom remains elusive

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

Press freedom is not yet a reality in many African countries and still faced many challenges, the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) and The African Editors' Forum (Taef) said yesterday.

Sanef said that it was "ironical" that media organisations in South Africa spent World Press Freedom Day presenting their arguments against the film and publications amendment bill to the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs.

Sanef said the proposed legislation would impose censorship prior to publication and restrict media freedom.

Both Sanef and Taef also paid tribute to journalists who had been killed, tortured or jailed in the line of duty in the past year.

Taef has called on the African Union to adopt next year or 2009 as the The African Year of Freedom of Media and Expression in order to strengthen both the media and democracy on the continent.

Taef chairman Mathatha Tsedu yesterday said: "African editors are working to build a climate of openness and communication which will undermine such oppression by promoting adherence to the media freedom charters signed by African governments."

This follows a meeting of Taef delegates and a representative of the Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations with the chairman of the AU commission, Alpha Konare, in Addis Ababa in February.

At the meeting the editors' delegation proposed the establishment of a mechanism for interaction between the AU and media and freedom of expression organisations.

It was also proposed that the AU declares one day in the year The Day of African Media.