13 August, 2010

The media tribunal my foot

by Anorth Mabunda

Even with these watchdogs, the press has its unethical journalists just as medicine still has its quacks, law has its shysters and education its tenure-protected and inept teachers.(Leiter, Harriss and Johnson 2000:15)
These are the factors that the ANC government must consider before enacting draconian legislations against the people’s watchdog, the fourth estate.

Recently, the press is under the government’s eagle-eye and letting the press in to the state-run tribunal will be suicidal to journalists. We will see lots of journalists being subpoenaed for telling the truth about greedy politicians and thus it (the tribunal) will give power to greedy politicians like Julius Malema and Simphiwe Nyanda who squander the people’s money and hail stones to the media for playing its role.

When President Jacob Zuma was sworn in as president, he promised to uphold the media freedom and so Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, who promised to amend the Access to Information Bill, so it can be easily accessible.
If your promises were true Mr President and Chief Justice, what are the Media Tribunal and Protection of Information Bill for? In fact, what is this information that deserves so much protection to an extent that it should be concealed from the general public? Is it the arms deal information? It must be confidential information indeed but the public has the right to know.

It is evident that the relationship between Robert Mugabe and the ANC means the sharing of draconian ideas. In 2002 Zanu-PF implemented the Access to Information and Protection to Privacy Act which limited access to information held by government departments and agencies and statutory bodies compelling journalists and the whole media to be registered with the state-run Media and Information Commission (Fourie, 2007:77).

I believe this is a move by the ANC to thwart away whistle blowers and conceal acts of corruption by their fellow camaradas. First they abolished the effective crime prevention unit, the Scorpions, and now they want to abolish the Press Ombudsman. Media representatives must protest this reversed apartheid policy which doesn’t want us to self-regulate and if possible, we must embark on a mass action.
Future journalists will be studying to be under government’s jurisdiction and thus will be forced to be their mouth-pieces.

The ANC’s justification in implementing this draconian legislation is that the media can’t really regulate itself and some journalists are being bribed for stories. Every where there is bribery, even in government, ask Metro Police officers they will tell you.

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