Editors vow mass campaign against media bill

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) is planning public protests to stop the controversial Film and Publications Amendment Bill from going ahead.

"It's the bill that should be banned, not the media," said Sanef chairperson Ferial Haffajee in a statement released after the organisation met in Grahamstown on Sunday.

"The organisation will embark on a programme of rolling protest action and high-level engagement to ensure the bill is amended to protect media freedom," said Sanef.

"Sanef welcomes the broad front of opposition to the bill as it has been tabled in parliament. These include international and local media freedom bodies and a wide range of civic and business organisations."

Sanef and the African Editors' Forum, also meeting in Grahamstown, strongly condemned the kidnapping and assassination of Sudanese editor Mohamed Taha in Khartoum in September, and the continuing exile of Gambian newspaper editor Musa Saidykhan, who fled after being detained and harassed.

"Saidykhan was taken from his office in Banjul after he had written a story in his newspaper about how South African President Thabo Mbeki had promised to help Gambian journalists by interceding with the government there over media repression," said Sanef.

Sanef also criticised recent harassment of journalists by Mbeki's security staff and the confiscation of pictures taken on the day of the president's consultation at a hospital. - Sapa

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