21 November 2018
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) notes the statements made by EFF Leader Julius Malema outside the venue where the State Capture Commission is underway. Malema singled out a number of senior journalists accusing them of showing bias towards Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Malema was addressing EFF members gathered outside the building where Gordhan was testifying before the commission. Malema alleged that journalists “know about Gordhan and his daughter’s private business affairs” but fail to ask questions. Malema first threatened journalists asking his supporters to “attend to them decisively”. Later he softened his stance saying, “engage with them from a civilized point of view”. He also stated that the EFF will not be engaging with certain media houses and journalists until these journalists ask Gordhan the “questions we want them to”.
SANEF obviously accepts that politicians have a right to speak their mind and raise their concerns about the media and its real and perceived biases. But we ask that politicians (business leaders and others) don’t single out specific journalists – they should rather engage with the editors who employ the journalists. This is critical to protect the safety of journalists particularly in terms of the threats and cyber bullying that is unleashed on social media. Further, if people have concerns about published work or broadcast footage we encourage them to use the complaints channels already in place i.e. the Press Ombudsman and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCCSA) or regulator, ICASA.
In the run up to the 2019 elections SANEF accepts that the political terrain will be highly contested. We therefore call on all political parties to respect the role of the media and guard against making statements that could undermine freedom of expression and access to information – and also threaten the safety of journalists.
SANEF will continue to monitor the media landscape and rigorously defend the constitutional principles of access to information and freedom of the media. However, we also don’t believe the media is above the law. We will not be defending unethical journalism – we commit to calling this out wherever and whenever we see it.
For more information please contact:
Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom Chair
082 379 4957
Moipone Malefane – SANEF Secretary General
Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director
082 926 6404