On Sunday, President Zuma told editors and journalists that the media had to be regulated as “they could not do as they pleased”.
Apparently the ANC is planning to speed up the implementation of the proposed media appeals tribunal that was discussed at a conference in 2007. Moreover, the acceptance of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill – also known as the secrecy legislation – has apparently only been postponed in order to have it refined. In addition, the state security agency is planning a rigorous selection process for journalists reporting on events in parliament.
Dr Eugene Brink, senior researcher at the Solidarity Research Institute, said the ANC is apparently trying to restrict the media’s watchdog role.
“Media that are free, vigilant and independent are essential to expose corrupt practices. In its absence, politicians cannot be held accountable by the public for their misdemeanours and taxpayers would never know what happens to their taxes,” Brink cautioned.
Brink is of the opinion that the media managed to regulate itself over the past 21 years, and that government’s plans to regulate the media are not justified.
“In recent years, the media got several politicians and government officials in hot water for their involvement in corruption and the misappropriation of funds. This partly explains the ANC’s intensified campaign to limit media freedom, but it does not justify stronger regulation of the media in any way whatsoever. Thus far, the media have only exercised their constitutional right to freedom of speech and fulfilled their duty as democratic watchdog,” Brink said.