freedom of expression

Information Bill: Threat to Media Freedom?

Government is under criticism from civil society organisations (CSOs), the media and opposition parties over the Protection of Information Bill.

The Bill, meant to replace an apartheid-era law dating from 1982, includes some problematic (potentially unconstitutional) elements that limit the media’s right to information and could see investigative journalists face up to 25 years in jail for publishing information of ‘public interest’.

Press Tribunal a Blow to Media Freedom – Louw

The Press Council of South Africa takes issue with a call by the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) for a statutory media appeals tribunal.

In a press statement, the Council’s chairperson, Raymond Louw, points out that imposing of such a tribunal on the press has nothing to do with promoting press freedom but everything to do with the way the press reports on the conduct of governance, including the conduct of Cabinet ministers and other senior officials of the ANC.

Information Bill Unconstitutional – Lawmakers

Lawmakers have warned again that the Protection of Information Bill will not survive Constitutional Court scrutiny because it rides roughshod over media freedom and the democratic values of transparency and accountability.

Dario Milo, a partner at Webber Wentzel law firm making a representation on behalf of Print Media South Africa, points out that, "The ones (clauses) I have highlighted are clearly unconstitutional and the Constitutional Court would strike them down."

SANEF to Engage ANC on Media Freedom

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) will request a meeting with the African National Congress (ANC) to have a ‘decent conversation’ about media freedom.

SANEF chairperson, Mondli Makhanya, points out that, "There seems to be a huge gulf that has developed between the ANC and the media. We want to sit down with them and a have a decent conversation."

SANEF Rejects the Proposed Tribunal

The South African National Editor’s Forum (SANEF) has expressed its ‘strong rejection’ of renewed proposals for a state-appointed tribunal and a growing slate of new legislation that is ‘hostile’ to the free flow of information to South Africans.

In a statement following its annual general meeting in Johannesburg, SANEF points out that the proposed tribunal will go against the existing system of self-regulation which involves the media and members of the public, and will be unconstitutional.

Zambia Challenged Over Freedom of Expression

The special rapporteur on freedom of expression and access to information in Africa, Pansy Tlakula, has appealed to Zambia’s president to repeal a law used to convict and imprison Fred M’membe, the editor-in-chief of The Post.

Tlakula, who is also South Africa’s chief electoral officer, says section 116 (1) (d) of the Zambia Penal code, which was used to convict M’membe, is incompatible with regional and international guarantees of freedom of expression.

Malema’s Conduct Amounts to Censorship – SANEF

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) says the verbal attack by the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president, Julius Malema, on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalist, Jonah Fisher, amounts to censorship.

In a press statement, SANEF states that, "It is totally unacceptable to treat a journalist that way for doing his job of asking a pointed question."

ANCYL Criticised for Harassing Journos

The Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) director, William Bird, says journalists are not employed as public officials but are there to monitor those who are.

Speaking at a SAFM discussion programme, the After Eight Debate, on the topic of this recent "harassment" of the media, Bird argued that, “The Press Council, Media Monitoring Africa, the Freedom of Expression Institute and various others" – are there in a watchdog role over journalists.


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