Shining a light for democracy

South Africa needs the media and judiciary to ensure the government functions in an "accountable, open and honest manner".

South Africa needs the media and judiciary to ensure the government functions in an "accountable, open and honest manner".

And that's the considered opinion of no less a luminary than Chief Justice Pius Langa.

"It's up to the media and the judiciary ... to keep the government in check," he told an audience at the Durban University of Technology.

We couldn't have said it better, especially considering the rumblings from the ruling party about instituting fresh curbs on the news media.

How soon they forget.

Remember how demagogues from Adolf Hitler to HF Verwoerd, John Vorster, PW Botha and Robert Mugabe launched their tyrannies by muzzling the press?

Seems many former idealists and now frustrated gravy trainers have forgotten this basic lesson of democracy as they squirm under the spotlight being shone on their more questionable affairs.

Langa noted that the media's role was to report both "what has happened and what has not happened".

Yes, that's what we do. We discomfit the powerful precisely because we give a voice to the voiceless. For without freedom of expression the fine sentiments attached to democracy are worth nothing to those left even in a progressive society's shadows.

It's time our leaders helped reinvigorate our democracy with forgotten principles lest they too be buried in its dust.

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