Editors lambaste state or party control of media

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

The ANC's attempt to control the media through a media tribunal once again came under sharp criticism from the country's editors.

Following a two-day annual general meeting held in Johannesburg at the weekend, the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) expressed their concern about unsubstantiated complaints by senior ANC members about the Press Council as well as attempts to discredit the judiciary, "which acted as a bulwark against the erosion of Constitutional rights".

The organisation restated its firm opposition to any attempt by the government or the ANC to control the media.

At its national conference in Limpopo, the ANC resolved to establish the media tribunal to make journalists account for what they published.

"Sanef reiterated that such steps would restrict media freedom and contravene freedom of expression rights in the Constitution," Sanef said yesterday.

The body's members re-committed themselves to improving standards of journalism and enforcing the Press Council's Press Code of Conduct, reiterated their unwavering support for the media's Constitutional rights.

Sanef also lambasted the government control through the Films and Publications Amendment Bill, the Protection of Information Bill and the National Key Points Act.

It lambasted continued detention without trial of journalists in African countries and called for their unconditional release and urged the African Union to intervene.

Veteran journalist Max du Preez , the former editor of Vrye Weekblad and founder of SABC's Special Assignment, was the winner of the 2008 Nat Nakasa Award for courageous journalism.

Sanef office bearers: Jovial Rantao, Sunday Independent editor and deputy editor of The Star , chairman; Henry Jeffreys, Die Burger editor, deputy chairman; Mary Papayya, Sowetan KZN bureau chief, secretary-general and Juanita Williams, Independent Online news editor, treasurer.