HRC looks into FBJ affiliation

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

South Africans will in two weeks' time know whether the Human Rights Commission (HRC) believes that the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) should remain an exclusively black organisation or open its membership to whites.

The membership of the forum is open to only Africans, coloureds and Indians who are regarded as black in terms of the black consciousness definition.

Yesterday, HRC chief executive officer Tseliso Thipanyane, said the media was part of South African society where racism existed.

"The newsroom is no different from any other sector of this society," said Thipanyane.

He said the FBJ could play an important role in addressing the challenges that black journalists continue to face.

On Wednesday, the HRC held public hearings to debate whether the FBJ was undermining South Africa's 14 years of democracy by excluding white journalists from its activities and membership.

The hearings followed a complaint by Talk Radio 702 and Highveld Stereo to the HRC that the FBJ had unfairly discriminated against white journalists who were barred from attending a lunch with ANC president Jacob Zuma.

Black journalists who walked out of the lunch in solidarity with their white colleagues were called "coconuts", a term used to describe black people who are seen to be acting like whites.

* See page 18 and 19