Zuma affirms commitment to media freedom
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African News Agency
PRETORIA: President Jacob Zuma says his government is committed to deepening media freedom and diversity.
Addressing a gathering of the country’s senior journalists and editors at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria yesterday, Zuma said he appreciated the role played by the media in a democracy.
“Government will continue to promote media freedom and to protect the right and space for the media to report without fear or favour, as has been happening for the past 21 years of freedom.
“Information is power. In this regard, we also urge the media industry to ensure that media freedom and access to the media are enjoyed by all in the country, including the poor and the working class.”
The event marked Press Freedom Day, which is commemorated annually on October 19.
“Compatriots, we fought hard and relentlessly to have a South Africa where all enjoy the rights and freedoms. Our commitment to freedom of expression, a free media and all the freedoms enshrined in our constitution remains steadfast,” said Zuma.
The government was pleased with the country’s growing radio sector, including community radio, following the opening up of the airwaves after the advent of democracy.
Zuma said his government was also playing its role to further promote access to information to the poor, who were not covered by commercial media, through the government newspaper Vukuzenzele, which he said reached more than a million people a month.
“Compatriots in the media, let me touch on a matter that is of interest to you, the Protection of State Information Bill. The bill is still under consideration and various inputs and legal opinions are being processed.
“I had sent the bill back to Parliament for technical reasons and they returned it with the changes having been made. Thereafter, further objections were received, which were of a constitutional nature.
“The new minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo, also requested to work further on some aspects of the bill. At the appropriate time, a determination will be made on the way forward.”
The ANC, at its recent national general council meeting, resolved to implement its 2007 conference resolution on media transformation, accountability and diversity. This includes the proposed parliamentary inquiry on the feasibility and desirability of a media appeals tribunal.
“We anticipate that Parliament will, in its deliberations, take into account the media and freedom of expression provisions in the constitution of the republic. Nothing will be done which is in contravention of the constitution.”
On October 19, 1977, the apartheid regime clamped down on the media, banning two newspapers, The World and Weekend World.
They arrested the editor, the late Percy Qoboza, and other journalists who were courageously exposing crimes against humanity perpetrated by the regime.