freedom of expression
freedom of expression
- Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth
Organisation of African Youth (OAYouth) was formed in 2009, conforming to the provisions of African Youth Charter, which was adopted by the African Union. The Charter defines African youth as people between the ages of 15 and 35. Membership to OAYouth is open to individuals and youth organisations, that are working to empower youth on any issues.
The youth voices in South Africa are fragmented and divided by race, religion and especially controversy-magnetic political platforms. As such, young people generally do not have a cohesive neutral platform for dialogue. In certain circumstances South Africa fails to answer: Who speaks for the youth?
OAYouth, in partnership with students associations at University of Witwatersrand, is hosting a Youth Dialogue on 18 August 2012 in Johannesburg.
The symposium will be attended by over 60 young people, youth organisations and students leaders.
The event is aimed at discussing the following question - ‘how do developmental trajectories have to look like in order to achieve social equality in South Africa? What is the role of youth to make it happen?’
These and other policy issues such as nationalisation, land reform, unemployment and entrepreneurship development, will strengthen a more coherent voice of youth and their willingness to partner with developmental stakeholders to make South Africa a great nation in Africa and the world.
For more information contact:
President Organisation of African Youth
Mobile: 073 445 4355
For more about the Organisation of African Youth, refer to www.oayouth.org.Event start date:18/08/2012Event end date:18/08/2012Event venue:FNB Auditorium 101 - West Campus, University of WitwatersrandEvent type:Seminar
- If the South African Parliament pushes through the highly controversial Protection of Information Bill, the negative fallout in the region could be immense, said CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation today.
“We are witnessing a pervasive crackdown on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly across the African continent,” said Netsanet Belay, Policy and Research Director at CIVICUS. “At present, South Africa remains an island of democracy. But if the draconian secrecy bill is passed, this will change and further encourage authoritarian leaders in the region to inhibit democratic freedoms.”
The Protection of Information Bill is currently being discussed in committee by the South African Parliament. It contains a number of problematic provisions, establishing serious hurdles for the media and civil society to obtain information about official corruption mismanagement and government service delivery issues. The Bill gives government officials wide powers to prevent disclosure in the interests of “national security” which is broadly defined to cover a vast array of information.
“Passage of the Bill will lead to increased opaqueness in the functioning of government departments, making it extremely difficult for citizens to identify bottlenecks in the official machinery, inhibiting their access to constitutional entitlements and services,” said Dale McKinley of the Right 2 Know Campaign. “South Africa has a constitutional commitment to ‘accountability, responsiveness and openness.’ This bill goes a long way in negating these values for which the struggle against apartheid was waged and upon which the edifice of South African democracy stands.”
The Bill applies to all organs of the state, which includes national and provincial government departments, independent commissions, municipal and local councils and forums. It empowers the Minister of State Security to “prescribe broad categories and sub-categories” to classify information to prevent it from entering the public sphere. The heads of government departments are further empowered to put in place departmental policies, directives and categories for the purpose of classifying and declassifying information.
The Bill also contains draconian punishments ranging up to 25 years in prison for a host of offences, including obtaining, possessing, intercepting and disclosing classified information. South African journalists and civil society activists are extremely anxious about their ability to pursue their quest for the truth in the future. Notably, the bill has no clause to protect the disclosure of information in the ‘public interest.’
CIVICUS calls upon the South African Parliament to reject this “anti-people” bill in its totality. “It not only negates constitutional freedoms at home but also tarnishes South Africa’s reputation as a leading democracy and emerging voice of conscience from the global south,” said Belay.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global movement of civil society dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society across the world. CIVICUS is part of the Right 2 Know Campaign, a coalition of people and organisations united in the struggle for the right to information and opposed to the Protection of Information Bill, which threatens hard won constitutional rights including access to information and freedom of expression in South Africa.
For more information contact:
Project Coordinator, Every Human Has Rights
For more about CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, refer to www.civicus.org.
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleases.Date published:09/06/2011Organisation:CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
- Last night the South African Broadcasting Authority (SABC) showed news reports across its channels about police brutality which occurred during a “service delivery” protest in Ficksburg in the Free State. The manner in which it was covered by SABC’s different television services raises number of key issues.
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) welcomes the decision by SABC to give such prominence and attention to the death of a citizen following an incident of police brutality. Nevertheless MMA is concerned about discrepancies in how the story was reported.
Each of SABC’s main evening news bulletins led with a report which showed violent footage of a man being beaten by police officers. It is understood that he was also shot during this incident and died as a result of his injuries. MMA believes that footage of extreme violence and brutality should only be shown where there is a clearly identifiable public interest and only then in limited circumstances. This view is supported by the Broadcasters Code of Conduct, as well as SABC’s own editorial policies.
In MMA’s view, both primetime news bulletins on SABC 2 and 3 complied with their editorial commitments “to use some form of audience advisory to give advance notice when violence is to be shown.” For this they are to be commended. However SABC 1’s news bulletin, which was broadcast half an hour later, contained no advisory warning. MMA strongly condemns SABC 1’s failure to warn viewers in advance.
SABC’s editorial policies make very clear it will only broadcast images of violence “if they are needed in order to portray legitimate information or context” and that it must ensure that it “is justifiable in the context of the SABC’s functions and purpose.”
In introducing the news report SABC 3’s anchor gave context to what had happened, and made clear that it was an incident of police brutality. MMA believes that there are legitimate and strong public interest reasons for reporting on this case and using the extremely violent footage.
It is arguable that SABC 2 and 3 showed only enough of the violent images as was necessary to tell the story. However, MMA is concerned that SABC 1 went too far in broadcasting the moment when the victim finally fell to the ground after being beaten and shot. Neither of the other bulletins chose to show this particular footage. MMA believes it was gratuitous and unnecessary for SABC 1 to do so.
MMA is also concerned about the way in which a grieving woman was portrayed in all of the news bulletins. SABC’s editorial policies maintain that ‘broadcasting [a person’s] displays of grief should be kept to a minimum.” The policies explicitly give guidance on this issue saying that “a wide shot of someone being comforted is less intrusive than a lingering close-up shot of someone who is obviously distressed.” MMA believes SABC 2 and 3 especially ignored their own advice, when they showed footage of a woman who was clearly in distress for almost six seconds.
Finally, MMA is concerned that SABC may have left itself open to an accusation of bias. All of the journalists reported that these were ‘service delivery protests’. Two officials were accessed, the Mayor and the Premier. However, no where in any of the bulletins, was anyone interviewed to put forward or explain the reasons for the protests or to give their reaction to the police brutality experienced. By this omission each of the reports, “distorted or gave wrong or improper emphasis” to one side, in this case that of the public officials. In this way SABC again violated its own editorial policies.
MMA is concerned that the valid public interest reasons for publicising such an overt human rights violation may have been undermined by the broadcaster’s clear inconsistencies in reporting the incident. We call on SABC to apologise to the viewers of SABC 1 for failing to warn them about the extremely violent and disturbing footage. We further call on the broadcaster to explain why there was such a significant ethical discrepancy in how this story was reported on SABC 1. Finally, we would also welcome assurances that they will not fail in this manner in the future in respecting their editorial policies.
For more information, please contact:
Ashoka & Linc Fellow
Media Monitoring Africa
Tel: 011 788 1278
Fax: 011 788 1289
www.mediamonitoringafrica.orgDate published:14/04/2011Organisation:Media Monitoring Africa
- The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) has added its voice to those condemning police for arresting two journalists while they were carrying out normal reporting duties.
In a press statement, SANEF points out that, "Even more alarming was the police confiscation of the journalists' cellphones and other equipment which was handed back only after the intervention of a lawyer."
The organisation states: "The fact that the equipment was returned to the journalists after a lawyer had intervened suggests that the police acted illegally in taking the equipment and were probably engaged in a fishing expedition to try to gather information or evidence about a potential crime - totally unacceptable conduct."
To read the article titled, “SANEF protests arrest of Sowetan journalists,” click here.Source:All Africa
- The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) says it is shocked by President Jacob Zuma's decision to sue Avusa Media for R5 million for Zapiro's Lady Justice rape cartoon.
SANEF says it is surprising that the president waited more than two years before instituting his complaint on the grounds that in one instance he had been humiliated and degraded by the cartoon and in another instance that his reputation had been damaged.
SANEF deputy chairperson, Raymond Louw, says SANEF notes that the content of the cartoon had been debated by the Human Rights Commission which exonerated the paper and Zapiro, stating that the issues raised by the cartoon were in the public domain.
To read the article titled, “SANEF: Zuma's Zapiro lawsuit shocking,” click here.Source:News24
- African National Congress (ANC) veteran, Pallo Jordan, has sharply criticised the party’s plans for a media tribunal and the Protection of Information Bill, saying attempts to muzzle the modern media are a ‘fool’s errand’.
Jordan warns that the party is backing itself into a ‘lose-lose situation’, and it risks losing its credibility as a campaigner for media freedom, and the Bill possibly failing a mooted constitutional challenge.
In the same vein, Jordan criticised constitutional lawyers, saying they should have stepped into the breach when the media tribunal and information bill were first put on the table, not to be critical but to ensure the legislation is a co-operative work.
To read the article titled, “Media gag ‘a fool’s errand’- Jordan,” click here.Source:Business Day
- His Excellency Jacob Zuma President of the Republic of South Africa Union Buildings Private Bag X1000, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa BY FAX: +27 12 323 8246 19 August 2010 Your Excellency, We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at two recent moves by the ruling ANC that seriously threaten press freedom in South Africa. The Protection of Information Bill currently before parliament seeks to replace apartheid-era legislation with far-reaching provisions that would virtually shield the government from press scrutiny and criminalize activities essential to investigative journalism. Under the bill, officials would be empowered to classify any public or commercial data as confidential on vaguely defined "national interest" grounds without having to give any explanation. Such powers could be used to outlaw coverage of such issues as public law enforcement and judicial matters, with political appointees having the final say over which information should be classified. One of the serious deficiencies in the legislation is that there is no provision for a "public interest" defence by journalists and others to support the disclosure of classified information. Anyone found guilty of unauthorized disclosure of official or classified information could face heavy penalties. We are also seriously concerned at an ANC proposal that parliament appoint a Media Appeals Tribunal to adjudicate on complaints against the press. Such a government-appointed agency could be used as an instrument of political censorship, as has happened many times across Africa, and members would inevitably face an inherent conflict of interest. We respectfully remind you that an effective self-regulatory system, including a Press Ombudsman and an Appeals Panel, is already in place and has repeatedly been shown to act with neutrality. We bring to your attention the Declaration of Table Mountain, endorsed at the 60th World Newspaper Congress and 14th Editors Forum in Cape Town in June 2007 and recently signed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in July 2010. The Declaration of Table Mountain, among other things, calls on African states to promote the highest standards of press freedom in furtherance of the principles proclaimed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other protocols and to provide constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press. We respectfully call on you to ensure that the Protection of Information Bill and the Media Appeals Tribunals proposal are either amended in line with constitutional safeguards for freedom of the press or withdrawn altogether. We ask that you ensure that any future media reform in South Africa fully respects international standards of press freedom. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Yours sincerely, Gavin O'Reilly President World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers Xavier Vidal-Folch President : World Editors Forum ________________________________________ WAN-IFRA is the global organization for the world's newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries. ________________________________________
- Former South African President, Nelson Mandela, reminded us in 1994 that: “A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy.” 16 years into democracy, opposition parties, civil society, activists and other stakeholders are facing new realities associated with our democracy - the proposed Protection of Information Bill and Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT).
The Alternative Information Development Centre (AIDC) has criticised the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) for tabling plans to censor and punish the media for reporting on corruption, when they are unable to maintain organisational discipline.
The AIDC is of the view that instead of striving to extend freedoms and access to information to all South Africans, the ANC-led government is targeting a series of freedoms that will further curtail media freedom.
“The ‘people shall not govern’ if they are not informed and cannot express their views. There can be no meaningful development or service delivery responsive to the needs of the people without the freedom of expression and information,” states the AIDC.
Contrary to the ANC's claim that the idea of the statutory MAT will strengthen media accountability, there is a feeling that it will constitute a step towards official media censorship. South Africa already has a self regulatory body in the form of a Press Ombudsman to oversee complaints of violations of the media code of conduct adopted by the Press Council.
In a recent press statement, 19 civil society organisations (CSOs) called on government to caution relevant authorities against misuse of the power of arrest against those who exercise democratic dissent and to also withdraw the Bill in its present form as it is severely obstructive of people’s right to information. They also want government to take adequate measures to ensure that the right to express freely is protected from encroachments.
Apart from promoting censorship, activists fear that the proposed Bill and the MAT could also be used to target citizens in the long run. Speaking during the Mail&Guardian Critical Thinking Forum in Johannesburg, Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of journalism and media studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, warned that people and even CSOs will no longer feel free to write news stories denouncing corrupt officials.
"The minute you give that power to the state or government to make those decisions, it will in the long run have the potential to be used, not only against journalists, but also against other citizens," warned Harber.
Harber’s view is somehow reiterated by former University of Cape Town chancellor, Dr Mamphele Ramphele, who warned that if enacted, the Protection of Information Bill could well be used to make the society less open and less accountable. Speaking at the recent launch of the Open Society Foundation’s Open Society Monitoring Index, Mamphele maintained that, “Citizens could be deprived of information and, ultimately, freedom of expression would be inhibited, if not choked altogether, for fear of the punitive measures the Bill contains.”
Botswana and Zimbabwe
In Botswana, government introduced the controversial Media Practitioners Act. According to CSOs the Act’s right to reply clause threatens the independence of the media in that country. Under the Act, media practitioners are required to register and accredit with the Media Council and allows for stringent fines and imprisonment’ of journalists.
In Zimbabwe, the imprisonment of journalists and human rights activists after the introduction of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act tells a story of a country with no media freedom. Despite a constitutional provision guaranteeing freedom of the press, the country had deported many foreign journalists.
We have been reliably informed that journalists are now forced to address President Robert Mugabe as: Head of State and Government, the commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe defence forces and first secretary of ZANU-PF, Robert Mugabe, when writing news.
Outside our country, the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, publishers and journalists, has come to the defence of media freedom in South Africa. In an open letter to President Jacob Zuma, the IPI calls on the country to halt the establishment of a mooted MAT and withdraw or amend the Protection of Information Bill.
IPI interim director, Alison Bethel-McKenzie, argues that, “...any Media Appeals Tribunal will not be independent. If the MAT is appointed by parliament, it will face an inherent conflict of interest that will skew its rulings in favour of public and party officials and essentially amount to government oversight of the media - which is unacceptable.”
In conclusion, Reporters Without Borders’ Worldwide Press Freedom Index ranked South Africa in 26th position in 2002 of the countries said to have ‘genuine press freedom’. South Africa was ranked 33rd in 2009, an indication that the country risks reversing the gains it made since the inception of democracy in terms of media freedom.
- Butjwana Seokoma is information coordinator at SANGONeT.
- Proposed Laws Will Silence Critics – NGO
- Govt Might Target CSOs Over Funding and Activities
- ANC Urged to Remove MAT from its Agenda
- IPI Criticises SA Over Media Freedom
- Zuma: ANC Not Trying to Control the Media
- Civil Society Deeply Concerned About Roll Back in Democratic Freedoms in South Africa
- MISA – SA Favours ‘Self-Regulatory’ Media
- Call to Defend, Advance Freedom of Expression
- MISA-SA Calls for Secrecy Bill and ANC tribunal Plan to be Withdrawn
- Protection of Information Bill and Media Appeals Tribunal are Serious Blows to the Freedom of Expression of the Unemployed
- The South African Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-SA), has been deeply alarmed at the contents of the Protection of Information Bill and the proposals by the African National Congress (ANC) to set up a statutory Media Appeals Tribunal. MISA-SA fears that both will clamp down on the free flow of information and the media's ability to gather and publish information for the benefit of the public.
MISA-SA has been saddened, too, by a view that though there are many concerned members of the public who share the media's concerns about these two developments and the restrictive effects they will have on the public's right to know, the general public at large does not appear to realise that perhaps its most vital freedoms - its own freedom of expression and access to information - is under extreme threat.
There is a curious view prevalent among the public that media freedom is some special attribute that is the prerogative of the few thousand journalists, editors, publishers and writers in the country. In reality, however, “media freedom'” is no more and no less than the people's freedom. Indeed, media freedom is everybody's freedom. When media freedom is eliminated, it is also the end of the man-in-the-street's freedom.
The Bill, which is intended to define what information should be declared by the state to be secret, has many worrying aspects, the prime one being that, unlike state secrecy laws in other democracies, it defines information that can be classified as secret as that which may harm the “national interest”. Its definition of the “national interest’’ is so broad as to include every kind of activity that all levels of government and civil society are engaged in. This could have the effect that information that should be available to the public is classified and thus kept secret. For journalists the danger is that they may come into possession of classified in formation from a whistle-blower which could expose them to lengthy prisons terms. It could stifle investigative reporting.The Media Appeals Tribunal is seen by journalists as a mechanism to control the press and force it to publish news that pleases the government. The ANC disclosed its aims in the discussion document prepared for the ANC's national general council meeting to be held next month. The document stated: “Our objectives therefore are to vigorously communicate the ANC's outlook and values versus the current mainstream media's ideological outlook.
It reinforces this with: “The ANC is of the view that the media needs to contribute towards the building of a new society and be accountable for its actions ....'' and “It is our responsibility further, as we set the agenda for change that we dominate the battle of ideas and that our voice is consistently heard and that it is above the rest.''
The views of the editors are not alone. Civil society organisations have supported their objections, among them the powerful and independent Law Society of South Africa which issued a considered statement on 13 August, saying that the Bill and the tribunal were “constitutionally suspect”.
It added that each had the potential seriously to erode transparency, accountability by public officials and the public's right of access to information and media freedom and the fact that the tribunal would be accountable to parliament was “cold comfort'” because “ultimately what this would amount to was government oversight over the media, which could not be countenanced in a democratic state.”
MISA-SA has noted that Chairman Cecil Burgess of the Parliamentary Ad Hoc committee dealing with objections has admitted that the Bill has some “bad qualities'”. In light of that the appropriate step by Burgess is to withdraw the Bill and get rid of the “bad qualities”.
And the ANC is well-advised to drop its plan for a tribunal and a return to apartheid-style attempts to restrict and control the media be stopped. //End//
Tell: +27 11 339 6767
Fax: + 27 11 339 9888
The Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) is a regional membership–based non–government organization working for free, independent, pluralistic, sustainable media environment. MISA's memberships are based in 11 of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries. Officially launched in September 1992, MISA focuses primarily on the need to promote free, independent and pluralistic media , as envisaged in the 1991 Windhoek Declaration.Date published:16/08/2010Organisation:South African Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-SA)
Protection of Information Bill and Media Appeals Tribunal are Serious Blows to the Freedom of Expression of the UnemployedIn 2009 the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) submitted a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000. We filled in the forms in January 2010 requesting all the documents pertaining the hiring of Human Resource Manager Mr Ndwayana, including the information pertaining the hiring of Library East cleaner. We submitted the request because we were quite aware that in terms of the hiring policy, a candidate who gets the highest score must be eligible to fill the vacant post. However this was not the case when the Human Resource Manager was employed at Makana Municipality. Mr Ndwayana was a preferred candidate because of his close political and personal ties with the Director for Corporate Services, Mr Thabiso Klass. To this day they have literally and wittingly refused to comply and provide the UPM with the records.
There is land in Grahamstown, Cradock Heights (suburbs area) that belonged to the public; in early 2000 under the mayoral ship of Vumile Lwana, the councillors distributed the land among themselves. The public exerted pressure that a criminal case must be opened and an investigation must be carried out. To this day, there has been no report on the investigation, and the matter has been dragging for ages.
The UPM is also fighting for the community of Vukani to have their houses rebuilt because of poor workmanship and to also have the houses put Eastern Cape provincial government’s rectification list. The Daily Dispatch newspaper has been very helpful in our efforts to expose the state of Vukani houses in Grahamstown. UPM activist Nomiki Ncamiso died due to pneumonia-related diseases because of the state of the house she lived in. The front wall fell on her leg and she was hospitalised after sustaining injuries. They reported the matter to Makana Municipality; they were given black plastic bags to cover the whole front of the wall; these conditions undoubtedly contributed to her death. The list of corruption is endless; to cover it I will have to write a book.
The Promotion of Access to Information Act could potentially be an instrument for us as UPM to uncover corruption, if the Municipality did not simply ignore our requests. The news of the proposed bill, the Protection of Information Bill, is a blow. In fact it the complete negation of democracy, and will make it even more difficult, if not impossible to expose corruption at Municipal level. Many Municipalities are collapsing under the weight of corruption, and if conditions of poverty and unemployment are to be addressed, then corruption needs to be rooted out of local governments. Had it not been for the Constitutional right of access to information, we would not have uncovered that the Zuma regime spent R1.5 billion of taxpayers money on luxuries. Some of the expenditure includes Lindiwe Sisulu’s purchase of a R7million Mercedes – Benz vehicle. Siphiwe Nyanda who spent R515 000 dining with girlfriends and boyfriends at different five star luxurious hotels. We would not have uncovered that Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma is heading for his first billion while Kgalema Montlante’s lover is also going for her first billion. Reporting on such issues will become even more impossible of a statutory Media Appeals Tribunal is set up.
This does mean that the media are angels. Let me paraphrase American journalist and economist John Swinton when he writes; “There is no such thing as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dare write his honest opinions, and if you did you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper; others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, any of you who would be foolish as to write his honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. We are the tools and vassals of rich man behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks; they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, possibilities and lives are all the property of other man. We are the intellectual prostitutes.”
But does the problem of the media’s lack of independence require the introduction of a new Act, the Protection of Information Bill, as well as a Media Appeals Tribunal? This seems to be like curing the patient by giving it poison rather than medicine. The Protection of Information Bill and the Media Appeals Tribunal are nothing but attempts by the ruling party to monopolize the press. The proposed Bill and Tribunal have absolutely nothing to do with freeing the press from the yolk of capital. It is the very same capital that acts through the ruling party and continues to dominate economic power. It is the ruling party that has embraced neo-liberalism, where the state is simply an organizing tool for maximizing the profits of private industry. Inequality is deepening in our country and the majority of people live below poverty line. The ideas of the ruling class cannot be crushed through pieces of legislation that control what the media say; however they must be challenged at production level. The media must also be transformed and genuinely democratized so that really give a voice to the poor; this will not happen if the ANC pursues these Bills, and true transformation of the media is not their intention anyway: control is.
We are all dragged to the grave by the abominations of capital; through curable diseases, poverty and unemployment. We will never oppose any move by the government to shift to the left. However any attempts to use the apparatus of the bourgeois state of the ruling class which serves the ruling class rights for the purpose of abolishing those rights, are doomed to fail Comrade Blade Nzimande. You should remember this part.
Cell: 078 6256 462
E-mail: email@example.comDate published:15/08/2010Organisation:Unemployed People’s Movement